THE Kitwe High Court has slapped a 25-year jail sentence with hard labour on three members of the same family in Solwezi for murdering a man of the same area on suspicion that he was a wizard.
Mr Justice Isaac Kamwendo sent to jail Emmanuel Mafinde, 26, James Nswana,73, and Joe Katembo,53, after finding them guilty of murder.
Mafinde, Nswana and Katembo murdered Abelson Mwanza on March 3, 2014.
Through their legal aid counsel, Edwin Mazyopa, the three pleaded with the court to exercise maximum leniency when carrying out the sentence.
“My lord, my clients are first offenders who are sorry for their actions. Their stay in prison has made them realise that committing crime does not pay,” Mr Mazyopa said.
Delivering his verdict, Mr Justice Kamwendo said he considered the mitigation and submission from the defence counsel that the three believed that Mr Mwanza used to be a wizard.
He, however, said he was saddened that offences of this nature are on the increase in Solwezi and that giving Mafinde, Nswana and Katembo a 25-year jail sentence would deter others from committing a similar crime.
During trial, Glades Mwanza, 37, testified that on the material day around 04:00 hours, he learnt that a man from his neighbourhood had died at Kalumbila Mine Hospital.
He said the body was then taken to his village and that the convicts accused his uncle, Mr Mwanza, of being responsible for the death of their relative.
The court heard that Mafinde, Nswana and Katembo also took the coffin which was carrying the remains of the deceased to Mr Mwanza’s home, where they beat him using stones, sticks and the same coffin until he died.
The matter was later reported to the police and the three were all charged and arrested for murder.
And a 30-year-old man of Solwezi walked to freedom after the Kitwe High Court acquitted him of murder, CHRISTINE CHIHAME reports from Kitwe.
Mr Justice Kamwendo acquitted Paul Kupanda after finding him not guilty of murder.
It was alleged that on October 21, 2014, in Solwezi, Mr Kupanda murdered James Kayela.
Mr Justice Kamwendo said although it was clear from the evidence that was availed to the court that the deceased was injured and that the injuries caused him death, no one saw Kupanda with Kayela.