From August 22, 2013
LUSAKA business-executive Beatrice Hangwende, her brother John and two others have been sentenced to death for killing her husband’s lover Monica Chabwera Phiri in cold blood six years ago.
Supreme Court Judge Gregory Phiri, sitting as High Court Judge sentenced Beatrice, the owner of Jasmine Beauty Palour, and her brother to death on one count of murder and also imposed a life sentence in count two for attempted murder.
Beatrice was married to Jonathan Mwala before the two went on separation following marital differences.
Immediately, the verdict was pronounced, Beatrice wept uncontrollably until she was bundled into the prison van along with other convicts.
Beatrice’s accomplices Joseph Banda and Charles Mwanza have also been slapped with similar sentences, while her nephew Jungwe Majula was sentenced to 15 years on both counts.
However, the court acquitted Mary Moyo, Beatrice’s relative.
The six were facing murder of Monica and attempted murder of Benny Banda, a driver, on April 22, 2007.
Delivering a six-hour judgment, Mr justice Phiri said his hands were tied and could not exercise lenience because of the manner in which the victim was murdered and how they later planned to murder her driver.
“I find the four of you, Beatrice, John, Banda, and Mwanza, guilty of murdering the victim and robbing the victims of their properties which included cellular phones and damaging the vehicle driven by Monica and I accordingly sentence you to death as this is the appropriate sentence for this offence,” Mr Justice Phiri said.
Mr Justice Phiri advised the Police to continue pursuing the other two accomplices, Febby and Gregory who are still on the run and are believed to be part of the gang that murdered Monica on the material day.
The Judge said there was overwhelming evidence, especially from the Police officers tasked to investigate the matter.
He said he had never experienced such diligence executed by investigation officers who made his work easier after tracing all the mobile phone calls by the convicts and mapping their movements.
Mr Justice Phiri said he would write to the Inspector General of police Stella Libongani to have the four police officers, Alfred Foloko, Henry Mulenga, Richard Banda and a Ms Besa to be elevated for their efforts during investigations.
He observed that from the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses, Beatrice was the initiator of the murder as she had been planning the death way back before she engaged her relatives to help her by first abducting Monica and later driving her to Chisamba area where her body was dumped.
“The cell-sites used showed all the movements of the gang from Rhodes Park where they abducted Monica and her driver Benny and continued to exchange phone calls until past midday after she was murdered,” he said.
He said from the caller identification analysed from the cell-site towers, there was no indication that Beatrice was making those continued calls from outside the country as she alleged in her defence.
Mr Justice Phiri said Beatrice only stopped phone calls to her accomplices after midnight as shown by the detailed electronic systems which indicated that the convict was using the cell-site in Ibex Hills where she used to stay and was apprehended from.