LUSAKA High Court judge Anessie Banda-Bobo sentenced three police officers to death by hanging after convicting them of murdering three suspected cattle rustlers in Chipata in 2010.
This was in a matter in which inspector Noah Mukuka, and sergeants Teddy Mwansa and Gilbert Namashoba Kagoba were facing three counts of murder contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
And there was uncontrollable wailing by relatives of the three as judge Banda-Bobo handed the sentence.
Allegations were that the three police officers from Chipata’s Kapata police station on September 10, 2010, received a report from members of the public that there were people suspected to be stealing cattle in a nearby area.
According to court records, upon receiving the information, the trio accessed the armory without authoritisation from their superiors and got an AK-47 assault rifle and used a police vehicle registration number ZP 1775B to trail the suspects.
It was submitted that when they reached one of the scenes of the crime, they apprehended the three suspects [the deceased] Layford Mvula, 29, Saidi Nyoni, 35, and James Phiri, 30, all Chipata residents.
The court record indicated further that as the three police officers were being led by the deceased to another scene, the police vehicle had developed a mechanical fault and that the suspects allegedly attempted to escape.
In the process, the three police officers shot at the deceased whom they had found with 496 kilogramme of beef.
According to the postmortem results, the trio died of gunshot wounds that damaged their hearts and livers.
However, in their defence, Mukuka, Mwansa and Kagoba, who had served the police service for 15, 17 and 25 years respectively, said they did not intend to kill, but wanted to scare and stop the deceased after firing warning shots.
But the prosecution argued that convicts had aimed at stopping the deceased, they should not have repeatedly shot them in their upper body parts.
In delivering her two-hour thirty minutes judgment, judge Banda-Bobo said in her view, there was concerted effort by the trio to commit murder because even the manner in which the firearm was obtained from the armory was dubious as they had not signed for it.
She further said the accused had even concealed information from their superiors concerning the crime scene and that the owner of the alleged stolen cattle was not identified.
Judge Banda-Bobo said the court had established that the trio had an ill intention to murder the three whom they did not even give a charge.
“It is my considered view that the three [convicts] acted jointly together with a pre-meditated motive to kill the deceased,” judge Banda-Bobo said. “In accordance with the law, I have no choice but to hand you a mandatory sentence to death by hanging until pronounced dead by a certified medical doctor.”