Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Government to retrieve the body of Zambian Student who died in a Russian war


The Voice of America reports that Zambian authorities said they will travel next week to Russia to retrieve the body of a 23-year-old Zambian who died while fighting for the Russian military in Ukraine. His family and the Zambian government are still waiting for answers from Moscow on how he was recruited into the army while serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

Zambian ministry of information and media spokesperson Thabo Kawana confirmed that the ministry of foreign affairs is spearheading efforts to bring the body of Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda back to Zambia for burial.

Kawana said the minister of foreign affairs is in contact with Nyirenda’s family and has visited them.

“The government is also offering support during this trying moment and doing everything they can to arrange for the funeral and repatriation of the body back to Zambia,” Kawana said. “Using our diplomatic channels and our all-weather cooperation between Russia and ourselves, we will be able to get to the bottom of this matter.”

Nyirenda, a student, was born to a middle class family of lecturers at the University of Zambia, Edwin and Florence Nyirenda. He was the youngest of four children.

Nyirenda had a twin brother, Tivo. Their older sister Munangalu Nyirenda said Lemekhani had big dreams to develop Zambia. She said her close-knit family is devastated by his death.

“He was our baby brother, they have robbed him of his bright future,” she said. “Why? Why? This hurts so bad, we need some answers from Russia.”

Peter Daka, a close friend of Nyirenda’s who is based in Moscow, described him as a determined and brilliant young man.

“He was certainly a good boy, serious and determined at what he was doing; he is the guy who knew exactly what he wanted and went for it,” Daka said. “In whatever scandal he found himself in in 2020 personally I never understood, it’s sad that in the end we lost him.”

For Boniface Cheembe, a human rights defender and executive director of the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, a human rights think tank, Lemekhani Nyirenda’s basic human rights were violated by Russia.

“There are issues around human rights … especially where it concerns the consent of the individual,” Cheembe said.

The Russian Embassy in Lusaka refused to comment on the matter despite having agreed to a press request.

Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo said last Monday that Nyirenda, who had been studying at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, was serving a nine-year prison sentence for a drug offense.

He said Nyirenda was killed on the front lines in September, but Russian authorities had only just informed Zambia of the death.
Kakubo said that Zambia had demanded answers over the student’s death and why he had been sent to Ukraine.

Many Zambians are shocked by the news, but also frustrated that the government has not shared more information to explain the circumstances that led to the student being deployed to Ukraine.


  1. Russian should bring his remains back home and lay him to rest with full military honors as a war hero.

    That’s the least Russia can do. Meanwhile, RIP young fellow? ?

  2. I have Russian friends who would have facilitated his return in days. This boy was failed by hh and upnd govt. Left to die

  3. Scandalous. That is all I can say for now. If this had happened in a so-called third world country a lot of hell would have been raised, including possible sanctions and even raids or attacks. You sit back and observe what will unfold: a load of bs and grandstanding followed by hollow assurances.

  4. I am not shocked. This boy went to study why was he involved in drugs. Drugs, prostitution, homosexuality etc in foreign racist countries leads to such unexplained deaths. I would not be surprised if he traded saving in the war in exchange for his prison sentence. I do not think he was forced to go to Ukraine him being an adult.

  5. The deal was signed between the student prisoner and russian military for his freedom.The russian used human rights loopholes to lure convicts in to unwavering war with ukraine. The family will be awarded accordingly but needless to say a rather huge loss to family and zambia at large.

  6. It’s not only him. Many foreigners who were imprisoned are fighting in Russia against Ukraine because they were given that choice to fight for Russia for a certain period and win your freedom or finish your sentence in prison. Some opted to fight , survived and were sent back home while some died. All this of their own free will. Nobody was forced.

  7. You supported PUTIN with his war. and you condemned your Zambian government for Voting for the resolution to condemn Russia`s aggression against Ukraine. These are the results of war. and many fuuul here thought the Ukrainian war will NOT affect Zambia……we told you that was a misconception and short-sightedness.
    Why can’t Mnembe pick-up the phone and call his socialist brother? More deaths will be coming after those 300 000 volunteers that PUTIN recruited 2 months ago.
    The Ukrainian War shouldn’t have been tolerated right at the beginning……the whole world is impacted, not just Ukraine. However, I feel for the ordinary Ukrainian people suffering because of PUTIN. The next 3 months will be cruel for them with the winter season, since Putin has destroyed their infrastracture.

  8. Zambia is at war, no fertilizer,kwacha depriciating,fuel going up,zesco from k700 to K4000, honestly is this normal ba 2.8 million were are you kaya mwandi tuculila pamo, capamo coooerative.

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