Mongu court acquits two wildlife officers of murder

By Staff Reporter
The Mongu High Court on Thursday acquitted two wildlife officers facing a murder charge.
Lusaka High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama, sitting as judge in Mongu, acquitted Mufaya Mukelabai and Masiye Masiye who stood accused of murdering Namitala Mundoe.
According to the indictment, it was alleged that the duo  on August 25, 2017 at Muzhwe in Sesheke district, murdered Mundoe.
During trial, the prosecution called 13 witnesses, among them a medical doctor, Catherine Kaurobo-Zulu.
Dr Zulu who is stationed at Yeta district hospital in Sesheke, testified that she examined the body of the deceased on August 29 last year.
Dr Zulu testified that in the process she noticed that some parts of the body were missing, and that there was a wound on the collarbone, while the chin was split into two.
She told the court that she suspected a gunshot as the cause of death, although she could not rule out other causes.
Another witness, Dr Viktor Telendiy a Zambia Police Service pathologist, testified that he carried out a postmortem on the deceased on January 5 this year.
Dr Telendiy indicated that he was called to do the postmortem four months after the person had died.
He told the court that according to a police report, the body was found in the water where it had been for several days and had decomposed.
Dr Telendiy however told the court that after thorough examination of the body, he established that the cause of death was a gunshot.
He testified that there was an entry and exit wound cause by a bullet on the left side of the chest.
Another state witness, Matilda Busiku, an assistant superintendent at force headquarters in the forensic ballistics department, testified that she had done forensic work for 17 years.
She testified that on November 22 last year, a Sergeant Lungu at force headquarters submitted to her six guns and two cartridges.
Sup Busiku testified that she then learnt that the items came from Sesheke for forensic ballistic examination.
She said she examined the guns and cartridges and later compiled a report.
Sup Busiku testified that after examination of the six guns, two of them tested positive; meaning that the two AK 47 assault rifles had been fired before.
Raphael Tabaundule, a wildlife police officer, also testified that on August 24 last year, a team of state police officers from Sesheke went to their camp and surrendered to them an AK47 assault rifle with eight rounds of ammunition.
Tabaundule told the court that based on the information he and others received from Angola, he suspected that the deceased had two AK47 firearms.
Another witness,  Nalukui Matale, a wildlife police officer working as an armourer, told the court that  she was the one that issued guns and ammunition to the accused persons.
She testified that on August 29, 2017 at about 16:20 hours the duo  brought back the firearms to the armoury.
Another witness, Chief Inspector Dyson Bhandika based at Sesheke police station, told the court  that he and other officers had received a message from their Angolan counterparts about missing firearms and 260 rounds of ammunition.
Passing judgment, judge Chawatama said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.
Judge Chawatama said because of that it was not necessary to look at the second element of malice aforethought because the accused persons were engaged in a lawful operation at the time.
“My assessment of the evidence before me is that it is not sufficient for me to put the accused persons on their defence. I find them with no case to answer. I dismiss this case and forthwith acquit the accused persons,” ruled judge Chawatama.