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Police must be made to account for the death of Unza student; HRC says

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THE Human Rights Commission has called for punishment of the perpetrators of the death of the University of Zambia (UNZA) 4th year student.

And the Commission has further called for compensation of the family of the deceased Vespers Shimunzhila.

HRC Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya in a statement said the death of Vespers after a suffocation when her room caught fire as a result of a teargas which was thrown by police is a serious human violation.

Below is a full statement by the Human Rights Commission….

THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DEEPLY REGRETS AND CONDEMNS THE DEATH OF A FOURTH YEAR UNIVERSITY OF ZAMBIA (UNZA) STUDENT IN A POLICE OPERATION TO QUELL THE STUDENTS’ PROTEST ON THE NIGHT OF 4TH OCTOBER 2018.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) deeply regrets and condemns the death of a fourth year University of Zambia (UNZA) student in a police operation to quell the protest by students on the night of 4th October 2018 and calls for punishment of perpetrators and compensation of the family of the deceased.
Meanwhile the Commission calls for calm at UNZA to allow the authorities to get to the bottom of the unfortunate incident to avoid the situation degenerating into widespread breakdown of law and order that may cause a wide range of human rights violations.

The Commission wishes to also reiterate its condemnation of the lawless behaviour of some students who resort to blocking the roads and destroying property whenever they were aggrieved because breakdown of law and order is a recipe for violation of human rights.
However, regardless of how unlawful, unreasonable and unjustifiable the students’ conduct may have been, the police should not have gone into the campus premises particularly that it was at night and difficult to identify students who may have been protesting at the road side.

The Commission strongly believes that if the Zambia Police Service had respected the advice given to them last year by the Commission not to pursue rioting students into campus premises, and for the government to be pro-active in addressing students’ grievances, Vesper would not have been deprived of her right to life.

The death of Vespers Shimuzhila from suffocation after her room caught fire as a result of a teargas canister that was reportedly thrown into her room is a clear case of violation of her right to life as enshrined under Article 12 of the Constitution of Zambia and various other regional and international human rights instruments, to which Zambia is a State Party.

It is the Commission’s considered view that the death of the UNZA student does not fall within the ambit of the legally permissible derogation to the right to life when one is deprived of life during the suppression of a riot because the victim in question was not rioting but was lawfully and peacefully in her room, away from the scene of disturbances.

It is deeply regrettable that the Zambia Police Service ignored the advice given by the Commission on 18th December 2017 after investigating a similar riot at the Copperbelt University to refrain from invading campus premises and smoking students out of their rooms using teargas.
If the Police cared to heed to this advice, life could not have been lost in that manner but the police would still have succeeded in executing their constitutional mandate of protecting life and property as well as human rights by simply keeping vigil around campus premises after the students retreated into campus from the roadside instead of going for them up to their rooms. It is common knowledge that most students who are found in their rooms during protests are those who may be too scared to even go out of their rooms and are usually not part of the protestors. Those participating in protests do not usually take refuge in their rooms when being pursued by the police because they are aware that whistle blowers, otherwise infamously known as moles, may have tipped the police about their room numbers and they risked being fished out if they went into their rooms. Hence, they hide in other safer places. As a results, innocent students are regrettably usually victims of police raids on campus. It is for this reason that police invasion of campus premises and students’ rooms, particularly at night, is unreasonable, unjustifiable and an act of misplaced professional judgement and conduct that results into violation of human rights such as the death of Vesper.

The Commission had also advised the Government to be pro-active in resolving students’ grievances to prevent students’ unrest. Delayed payment of allowances to students, because of the pangs of hunger, has historically always resulted into students disturbances. It was therefore expected that by now authorities would have put into place a robust mechanism of communication and dialogue to prevent predictable students’ disturbances arising from delayed government obligation to facilitate the right to education. It would be unreasonable and inhuman to expect, let alone to call upon, hungry students to concentrate on learning.

The Commission wishes to put it on record that the death of the female student, who was only remaining with two months to graduate as a teacher, at a time when the international community, including Zambia, was celebrating teachers’ day, is deeply disheartening. The Commission, therefore, renders its heartfelt condolences to the extremely bereaved Shimuzhila family, her friends and the students fraternity as a whole.

To this effect, the Commission calls upon the Government to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable and the family of the victim is compensated in line with its primarily obligation of respecting and protecting human rights and ending impunity in human rights violations.

The Commission also calls for immediate restoration of the constitutional right to freedom of association in all the high learning institutions by respecting and protecting the continued existence and operation of independent students’ union to represent the collective legitimate interests and ideals of students in an organised and lawful manner.

During 2017, the Commission facilitated a number of dialogue meetings between the police command and University and College Students in an effort to prevent conflicts from degenerating into violence and clashes that resulted into breakdown of law and order and violation of human rights. It was agreed then that the police would maintain constant communication with the students’ union leaders so that law enforcement agents would also be key stakeholders in resolving grievances by the students in an amicable and non-violent manner.

Regrettably, the proposed mechanism seems not to be working and one of the causes could be the reported banning of the students’ unions. The Commission strongly advises that Students’ Unions must be restored immediately as a matter of respect for human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism.

The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted.

Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

 

Lifestyle

New Apostolic Church takes breakaway church to court for trespassing

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NEW Apostolic Church Zambia has rushed to the High Court where it has filed a lawsuit against a breakway church calling itself, True Apostolic Church.

The church has sued True Apostolic Church for trespassing on its premises, libel, and illegally using its emblems.

The aggrieved church further seeks a declaration that all church buildings it built across the country using its funds and contributions from its members belong to it and not True Apostolic Church.

New Apostolic Church Zambia is also seeking compensation or an anquiry relating to damages for infringement of copyright and for conversion.

The church also seeks an order that the defendant provides an account in respect of such income or payment received by the defendant to the plaintiff’s use from the sale of materials, goods or products carrying or containing the plaintiff’s logo.

The plaintiff states that is and was at all material times a church of Christ duly Registered and incorporated in Zambia.

New Apostolic Church Zambia submits that it was the legal and lawful owner and occupier in possession of various pieces of land and churches in Zambia.

The plaintiff submits that it will state at trial that in its over 100 years of existence in Zambia, it has built numerous churches and structures across the country, some on state land and for which certificates of title have been issued by the State.

“The plaintiff shall aver at trial that following the break-away from the plaintiff and the subsequent registration of the defendant by the Registrar of Societies, the defendant and its members engaged in activities aimed at disturbing, interfering and disrupting the smooth operations of the plaintiff, ” the document reads.

New Apostolic Church Zambia submits hat the breakway church took over its church buildings built on traditional land and threatened church members who had remained in the main church.

“The defendant has been infuriating and demeaning the leadership of the plaintiff and interfering with the worship activities of the plaintiff including exploiting without the plaintiffs products, goods, copyrighted material, logo, emblem and other church symbols without permission, ” the document reads.

The True Apostolic Church has also threatened to take over, and in some cases, actually managed to take over and occupied the plaintiff’s church buildings.

“For instance, the defendant managed to lock up Besa Congregation in Chipata which the defendant is currently using for its own church activities and also successfully locked up, Chizongwe congregation, Hilltop congregation and Roadside Congregation in Chipata and these remain locked up on the date of issuing this process,” the statement of claim reads.

The plaintiff also submits that the defendant has also been issuing death threats.

“Death threats were issued by Priest Musonda of the defendant church currently working as a Police Chaplain at Lusaka Division of the Zambia Police against a named member of the plaintiff who shall testify at trial”.

The plaintiff also submits that the defendant wants to misled the public that it supports homosexuality by quoting a document issued by a pressure group within New Apostolic Church.

“The belief apparently held by the defendant that the plaintiff supports homosexuality has erroneously been drawn from a document titled Rainbow NAC issued by a private initiative or pressure group within the New Apostolic Church in the United States of America where homosexuality is recognized as a human right”.

(Mwebantu, Monday, 27th March, 2023)

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Lifestyle

Kalulushi wife arrested for allegedly murdering her husband in cold blood

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A 32-year-old man of Kalulushi on the Copperbelt has allegedly been murdered in cold blood by his wife after the two had a dispute.

Benson Chiwele is believed to have gone home at night after a drinking spree and started accusing his wife Rabecca Kapala of also having gone out to drink with other men to drink beer.

Angered by his accusations , the suspect is believed to have taken a sharp unknown object and stabbed him multiple times on the head, hands and legs.

Copperbelt police commanding officer Peacewell Mweemba said the sad incident occurred on Thursday night.

He said the incident was reported by Hardson Chipengwe, the brother to the deceased that his young brother had been murdered by his wife after a marital dispute.

“Brief facts are that the deceased returned home on March 23rd, this year at about 23:30 hours from drinking beer. He started accusing his wife that she had gone out drinking beer with some men. This infuriated her, so she took an unknown sharp instrument and unlawfully wounded him. When the neighbours heard the noise, they rushed and found the deceased lying down with multiple cuts on his head, hands, and legs bleeding. They then phoned his brother who came and picked the deceased and reported the matter of unlawful wounding to the police,” he said.

Mr Mweemba said the victim was issued with a medical report form and taken to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

(Mwebantu, Saturday, 25th March, 2023)

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Lifestyle

Children’s school fees lands ex-DBZ boss in jail

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DESPITE pleading for leniency with the court since he is a first offender and a family man, a magistrate sentenced former Development Bank of Zambia managing director Samuel Bwalya to one year and three months imprisonment with hard labour.

Bwalya was jailed yesterday  for abusing K781, 000 in public funds after paying the money for his children’s school fees.

Lusaka Magistrate Faides Hamaundu said despite noting Bwalya’s mitigation and the fact that the money in question was recovered, she needed to impose a deterrent sentence on the convict.

Magistrate Hamaundu notes that cases of abuse of funds have become prevalent.

Bwalya was facing 12 counts abuse of authority.

Allegations were that on multiple occasions but between May 1, 2020 and July 30, 2021, Bwalya while working as a public officer in his capacity as managing director, arbitrarily directed payments of school fees for his children abroad using public funds.

It was alleged that using public funds, the accused made 12 separate payments of ÂŁ15, 980, equivalent to K417, 900.97; R106, 324, equivalent to K132, 435.09; and R90, 205, equivalent to K130, 709.94.

Other payments were R35, 160.61 equivalent to K39, 028.28; K10, 540, K9, 000; K8, 111.50; K8, 420; K6, 980; K6, 840; K6, 560; and K4, 670.

The funds were paid to different schools in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Zambia.

It was alleged that Bwalya’s decision to direct the cited payments was prejudicial to the interests of government.

When Bwalya appeared in court, he denied all the allegations and the state called about 11 witnesses to testify against him.

Passing judgement, magistrate Hamaundu found that in April 2020, K781,000 was paid as school fees for the convict’s children against conditions of his employment contract.

“The contract did not indicate his allowances but that of his predecessor. The accused had allowances but not education allowance
” There is no section that shows that he deserved allowances in the contract, ” magistrate Hamaundu said.

“I find that he was not qualified to get the education allowance as claimed. It was his predecessor who was entitled

“Further evidence shows that invoices to his children fees where submitted,” magistrate Hamaundu said.

“I have found the accused guilty in all the counts and I convict him accordingly,” magistrate Hamaundu said.

From counts one to 12, the court imposed a 15 months imprisonment with hard labour on each count but to but to run concurrently.

(Mwebantu, Saturday, 25th March, 2023)

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