NDOLA High Court judge-in-charge Jane Kabuka has sentenced a 38-year-old peasant of Samfya to death for setting a house on fire and burning to death five members of one family.
The incident happened after the now convict, Mweni Kope, of Chilekwa village had a brawl at a bar with a member of the affected family.
Justice Kabuka last Thursday, convicted Kope who was appearing in the Ndola High Court of five counts of murder after the prosecution proved their case against him beyond reasonable doubt.
Kope was initially charged with two counts of murder, and three counts of attempted murder, but all the charges were changed to murder following the death of the trio.
Particulars of the offence are that on December 21, last year, in Samfya, Kope murdered Mwape Chibesa, Musunga Chibesa, Theresa Chibesa, Robinson Chibesa and Eunice Mumba.
He denied all the charges.
In delivering judgment, Ms Kabuka said evidence against Kope was overwhelming. She said it was odd that the accused went and hid in the bush after the incident and only resurfaced two days after hunger had taken its toll on him.
“The evidence in this matter discloses a lot of odd circumstances. The accused was heard picking a quarrel with the deceased which erupts into a fight. After being restrained and the fight stops, accused declares that the fight is not over yet and threatens an explosion. He goes to buy two boxes of matches, barely seven hours after the accused’s threat, the deceased’s house is set on fire and all the immediate family members who were sleeping in it sustained fatal burns from which they subsequently die.
Ms Kabuka observed that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
“I direct that accused the be hanged by the neck until he is pronounced dead by a certified medical practitioner,” Judge Kabuka said.
The evidence before court was that Kope was drinking beer with Robinson Chibesa (victim) and other people.
A verbal exchange and later a fight ensured after Mr Chibesa, on his way outside dropped a chair, and thus infuriating the now condemned inmate.
The two were separated but Kope later went to Mr Chibesa’s house and set it alight while the latter was sleeping with his wife and children.
Mr Chibesa and one of his children died instantly, while his wife and two children died at Samfya General Hospital where they were admitted.
Before her death, Mrs Chibesa said she heard Kope daring Mr Chibesa that: “Come out of the house we fight if you are man enough.”