THE MAN who one day, on October 28, 1997 to be exact, shook Zambia with an early morning radio broadcast that he had overthrown the government has died.
Stephen Lungu, 50, code-named ‘Captain Solo’, a former Zambia Army captain who lost his rank after his treasonable act, died at Kanyama Hospital in Lusaka at 13:00 hours after an illness.
Family spokesperson and the deceased’s mother-in-law Josephine Musonda said Mr Lungu had been sick for some time but his condition worsened last Friday prompting family members to take him to Makeni Hospice.
“Unfortunately, the hospice was closed forcing us to take him to Kanyama Hospital where he died a few hours later. His body is lying in the University Teaching Hospital mortuary,” Ms Musonda said.
She said Mr Lungu’s health had been deteriorating since 2010 when he was released from prison on a presidential pardon due to poor health.
Ms Musonda, however, said Mr Lungu died peacefully having asked for forgiveness from Zambians and former President Frederick Chiluba, who was incumbent President at the time.
Capt Lungu and other soldiers raided the Mass Media Complex that houses the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), and announced that President Frederick Chiluba had been overthrown.
In a frightening but drooling voice on radio, Capt Lungu said the former leaders would be paraded and killed, sending fear around the country but it did not take long before a colonel’s voice intercepted the airwaves to announce that the coup had been crushed by loyal soldiers.
About 55 soldiers, including Capt Lungu, were arrested and after several appearances, some were discharged but he was sentenced to death.
President Levy Mwanawasa reduced Mr Lungu’s death sentence to life imprisonment and in 2010, President Rupiah Banda pardoned Mr Lungu, on health grounds, and he paid back by leading a Christian life up to his death yesterday.
Mourners are gathering at plot number 116/99 on Mumbwa Road where Mr Lungu was staying with the mother of his late wife. He is survived by three children.
[Zambia Daily Zambia]