The scenery of Kafue river
The scenery of Kafue river

On Friday 6th Feb 150 victims of water poisoning by KCM in Chingola in 2006 will flood the Lusaka Supreme Court for an appeal hearing.2000 claimants had successfully sued KCM (Vedanta Resources) for K10 billion in 2011 but KCM appealed the decision which was never re-heard.
After eight years, and a personal intervention by President Michael Sata before his death, they hope to finally get justice.

On Friday 6th February 150 people who were victims of a major pollution incident caused by Konkola Copper Mines in 2006, which poisoned the Kafue river and made thousands sick (1), will flood the Supreme Court of Zambia. They will attend the hearing of an appeal (by KCM) against the precedent judgement in January 2011 which awarded them K10 billion ($2 million) in damages for the sickness caused by drinking polluted water(2), and will defend the original judgement.

The 2000 claimants in the original case, led by lead claimant James Nyasulu, had feared they would never get justice until President Michael Sata intervened after meeting them in April 2014 and arranged a hearing of the Supreme Court in Ndola on June 3rd. The hearing took place but one of the three judges, Justice Albert Wood, had previously been an advocate for KCM in earlier hearings of the case. Nyasulu and his group complained to the Supreme Court about this undeclared conflict of interest(3) and were granted a re-sit of the hearing on Friday 6th Feb in Lusaka.

Twenty two of the original 2000 claimants have now died, some from liver and kidney damage potentially caused by the poisoned water, but the rest have awaited justice for eight years.

James Nyasulu says:

“After eight long years without justice people are feeling strained and stressed and are losing hope in the judicial system. The court must maintain its integrity and finally fulfill this judgement which was proven in good faith with substantial evidence, and move forwards with fairness.”

In the landmark ruling in 2011 High Court judge Phillip Musonda said he wanted to make an example of KCM for their ‘gross recklessness’. He also stated that;

“The courts have a duty to protect poor communities from the powerful and politically connected. I agree with the plaintiff’s pleadings that KCM was shielded from criminal
prosecution by political connections and financial influence, which put them beyond the pale of criminal justice.” (4)

However, Vedanta (KCM) subsequently challenged this decision, claiming they were not responsible for the contamination.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Throw the case at Mambilima so we what is made of.
    Don’t allow Mutembo Nchito to even go close to the case, it will be a nolle proceque

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    • K10,000,000 for 2000 affected people? It is a mockery of justice system. K5,000 per victim. KCM made billions and killed people, fish and cattle. They and all mines that resort to contamination shall be made to pay for their wrong doing. Supreme court to uphold the judgement and increase the compensation to K30,000,000. KCM is not paying this from their pockets. It will be paid by their insurance companies. Join insurance companies in the case to get better settlement.

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  2. James Nyasulu for MP Nchanga Constituency. He is a great man! Plus injaala yamunyokola, uyu a Nyasulu. 22 ana mwalila kudala, ka Leza!

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  3. Zambia is such a [email protected]*& up country. It should not take the president’s intervention for justice to be given. You place too much power on the useless presidents. If you had functioning democracy and independent judiciary then there would be nothing to worry about. I fear that KCM has already had dinner with the current executive and very unlikely that the victims will receive justice. This is Zambia after all.

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  4. true 2006 is a long time. I hope things will move so that people don’t feel cheated. its better to make decision even a bad one rather NO DECISION AT ALL

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  5. Courts / Judges need to have KPI’s from which their Competences should be deduced. All Political cases are handled quickly whilst those of common Man are left to Rot to the Extent where some claimants die. There has to be a sense of seriousness and empathy on the part of the Judges as poor people are humiliated due to lack of resources as they strive to get Justice.
    Justice delayed is Justice denied; We need all judges to have time frames in which cases are disposed off. The issue of retiring Judges with 80% of the incumbents salary till death should be stopped and only those that achieve a certain performance should be given that.
    Zambia is for Us all.

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  6. $2 million for is really utterly pathetic for 2000 people. ..no wonder the KCM chief executive was laughing at our docility!!

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