A KASAMA High Court has sentenced a Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) official to death by hanging for shooting to death of a suspect during an operation.
Citing the Supreme Court case of Kenius Sialuzi vs The People, Judge Charles Chanda in passing judgment said, “the use of a gun on a defenceless and unarmed person under any circumstances cannot be said to be reasonable as it is uncalled for without justification”.
Ohinga Lumamba, 44, a senior investigations officer of plot number 003 Mulenga Hills in Kasama was convicted for the murder of Geoffrey Mumba who was suspected of dealing in cannabis in Luyeye area.
Lumamba and three other officers were executing an operation to apprehend Mumba on July 8, 2013, when he shot the deceased in the chest.
According to eye witness accounts including that of the Mumba’s mother Benedeti Mumba, 60, Lumamba who was armed with an M56 rifle and three other officers arrived at Mumba’s house around 03:00 hours and banged heavily on his door.
When Mumba refused to open the door, the officers begun hitting the door on its hinges and the sound of a gun being cocked was heard.
When the door became unhinged, three people entered the house, while one remained outside Mumba’s house.
Ms Mumba then heard a gunshot and three successive cries from her son.
The officers soon left after the botched operation and drove away in a car they had parked several metres away.
Ms Mumba then entered her son’s house and found he was unresponsive. On inspection, she saw two wounds where the bullet entered and exited. The matter was reported to the Police who collected the body.
Testimony from the DEC officers was similar as they claimed there was a physical struggle between Lumamba and Mumba who was initially believed to have been armed with an axe.
DEC Northern region chief Kelvin Silwimba, as a prosecution witness, testified that he sanctioned an operation to be conducted on July 8 involving a person who was reported to be selling cannabis in Luyeye Village.
Jackson Ngulube was appointed team leader of the raid that had been specifically instructed to get reinforcement as required by procedure from the Zambia Police Service.
When he enquired about the operation the following day he was told it was aborted and awaited a report from Mr Ngulube.
Mr Silwimba was only told on July 10 by Mr Ngulube that the operation was conducted and that a death had occurred.
In his defence, Lumamba said he was standing at a window looking into Mumba’s house, while his colleagues were unhinging the door.
He said he saw Mumba rise from bed and pick an axe at which point he cocked the gun and fixed the bayonet and took a position to face him. Lumamba said he then charged and Mumba tried to grip the fire arm by the bayonet. He pulled the rifle back and in that moment a bullet was discharged. The team leader ordered a withdrawal from the operation.