Justice prevails in Kabwe wife killer’s case

End Violence Against Women and Girls Now
End Violence Against Women and Girls Now
THE brutal killing of Melody Kasonde who was eight months pregnant at the time by her convicted Kabwe-based soldier husband has left deep scars in the hearts of her mother, sister, other family members and close friends if not the nation as a whole.

The killing also marks another sad episode in relation to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases which the Government and in particular the First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba Sata has taken a keen interest in ensuring that the vice is brought to a halt through various interventions.
From the time Melody met her fate, friends and relatives followed the case keenly with interest as they kept their ears to the ground keeping a tab on the proceedings until judgment day.
December 29, 2011 will remain embedded in the memories of residents of Poleni Township who witnessed the retrieving of the body of Melody which was stashed in a military trunk and dumped in a 200 metres deep disused well.
Emotions were high in the township as the police with the help of the fire brigade officers retrieved the body which was wrapped in a cloth and stuffed in a trunk.
This is in a case in which the man at the centre of the homicide Steven Kabayo had been appearing in court for murdering 17-year-old Melody contrary to section 200 of the Penal Code Cap 87 of the laws of Zambia.
Particulars of the offence were that between December, 27 and 29, 2011, Kabayo and another soldier Brian Kayuni 34, allegedly killed Melody, who at the time of the murder was eight months pregnant.
During the trial, Humphrey Munumpa, a resident of Kamushanga Township narrated before Kabwe High Court judge Ms Justice Elita Mwikisa how the now convict allegedly asked him to help him to dispose of what he termed as a “dead dog.”
Mr Munumpa narrated that he was “hired” around 06:00 hours to “get rid” of the dog which was loaded in a military trunk but after the mission, he reported the case to Lukanga Police Post after realising that what was actually dumped in the unused well about 500 metres from the house was not a dog but a human being.
“Your honour as we were carrying the trunk I was suspicious because the trunk was too heavy. After parting company with Kabayo, I decided to go back and check. Upon arrival I saw that there was a human being inside in the trunk and not the dog as suggested by him (Kabayo). That is how I reported the case to the police,” he said.
He told the court that he was given sneakers, a camouflage shirt as appreciation for helping in carrying the heavy load and Kabayo was also supposed to give him money which he was due to collect later in the day.
And Anne Chisenga testified how Kabayo on the fateful morning went to her house in Kamuchanga Township looking for her son by the name of Solomon who at the time was not home and later ended up going with another son Humphrey on pretext that he wanted him to do menial work for him.
Another witness, sister to the deceased Rachael Malakata testified that the body of her late sister was partially burnt and had its skin peeled off when she was called to identify it at the mortuary.
She narrated that her sister was found without hair on the head, an indication that it had been pulled off, adding that as far as she was concerned, her sister was married to Kabayo because she witnessed the paying of dowry.
Ms Malakata who could not hold back her tears explained that though she did not see Kabayo kill her sister, she was of the view that he was the one who had committed the heinous crime.
She explained that the family was aware that the sister and her husband had experienced marital problems for sometime, but did not think that she could be killed in such a manner.
And arresting officer Manasseh Phiri testified that he arrested Kabayo and his co-accused Brian Kayuni after investigations following a report by Humphrey that he had been asked to do menial work by a soldier whom he later identified as Kabayo.
At the closure of the case by the prosecution team, Judge Mwikisa found the two with a case to answer and put them on their defence.
In opening his three hours defence, Kabayo’s testimony which was characterised by murmuring from members of the public, denied murdering his wife Melody, saying he never even married her in the first place.
Kabayo during examination-in-chief by his lawyer Tutwa Ngulube said he only paid money to the deceased’s family after he impregnated Melody and added that he was instead married to another woman he named as Sharon Nyimbiri.
He denied owning the trunk in which the body was found and hiring any man to assist him to dump the body elsewhere.
He, however, admitted knowing the deceased and that he had a child with her but that he was not aware about the second pregnancy because he was not staying with her.
According to the accused, sometime in October 2011 when he returned from his duties, he was shocked to find Melody at his home together with his wife, saying she came to ask for money for the child.
When pressed to explain why a total stranger should lie against him, he instead complained that the State advocate was “pushing him into a corner.”
And Mr Ngulube applied to the court to subpoena the mother of the victim after his client revealed that she visited him in prison where she asked for forgiveness.
Recently, two lawyers representing the two accused persons submitted to the court that two suspects be acquitted because the State had failed to prove the case of murder involving Melody and that there was no evidence.
Mr Ngulube submitted to Justice Mwikisa that his client was innocent and it was only fair that she gave him what he termed the “Nelson Mandela freedom while lawyer representing Kayuni Gilbert Chama said of all the witnesses called to testify in the case, only the arresting officer incriminated his client on a basis that the bed sheet which was found in a trunk was similar to his bed sheet which was in his room since the two accused shared the same house.
He argued that his client was arrested and jointly charged with Kabayo simply because police were told by Kabayo that the bed sheet belonged to Kayuni and that he was also accused of killing Kabayo’s wife.
In their defence, the two both denied killing Melody.
In passing ruling, Justice Mwikisa said the State had proved the case beyond any reasonable doubt against Kabayo but acquitted Kayuni for lack of evidence linking him to the offence.
She said Kabayo’s action was inhuman considering that his wife was heavily pregnant and that he had no justification for his action and was sending him to jail so that he could reflect on his actions.
“I want to remind you that the case which you are convicted of is a serious one but I have no option but to give you a life imprisonment with hard labour and hope you will reflect on your actions,” she said.
Earlier Kabayo through his lawyer, Ngulube asked for leniency, saying the time he has spent in remand had taught him a lesson.
Following the acquittal of Kayuni and sentencing of Kabayo, families of the two openly wept outside court while others praised God since they felt that justice had prevailed.
The women movement in Kabwe expressed shock over the brutal killing of Melody and called for justice to prevail.
Those talked to said those who kill should also be killed or face stiffer punishment because that would act as a deterrent to other would be offenders.
And Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) regional coordinator Juliet Kawanda has welcomed the judgment saying the organisation was hopeful that it would send a warning to would be offenders to refrain from killing their wives.
Ms Kawanda said she was happy with the judgment and appealed to couples with misunderstandings to find ways of resolving the issues amicably instead of resorting to violence.
“As a women movement we are happy with the judgment and the law says that the one who kills should also be killed and life imprisonment as far as we are concerned is just as good as death sentence,” she said.
In March this year, some women married to Zambia Army officers in Chindwin Barracks in Kabwe pleaded with the Government to seriously consider making some soldier’s busy to curb the increased cases of GBV.
The women talked to claimed that most of their husband’s in the barrack spend time idling which has resulted in many of them drinking alcohol excessively which later results in fights in homes.
And Kayuni who was jointly charged with Kabayo said he was happy to be acquitted and maintained his innocence, saying he had no reason to kill Melody.
“First of all I want to thank God for the grace because it was not easy to be put in custody over a crime I did not commit. It was very painful but I thank God that he saw me through and that justice has prevailed, ” he said.
Throughout the trial which had generated a lot of interest and attracted scores of curious people at every sitting, the court room was ever packed forcing others to follow the proceedings through the window.
Clearly, from the angry general reactions following the death of Melody, it is clear that residents of Poleni wanted nothing but justice to prevail, on the other hand it is everyone’s hope that time will come when cases of GBV would be issues of the past because no one has a right to take another person’s life.


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