In a significant victory for the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) has secured the conviction and subsequent sentencing of the perpetrators in the Abduction of 13 girls case to Life Imprisonment. The Lusaka High Court has sentenced James Bwalya Mulenga and Mathews Sikaonga for multiple offenses including Rape, Abduction, Aggravated assault with intent to steal, Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, and Grievous Harm.
The NPA’s legal team has displayed immense dedication and skill in achieving this ground-breaking outcome. Through the use of Victim Impact Statements during the sentence hearing, the NPA has set a new precedent in the prosecution of criminal cases. These statements shed light on the aggravating circumstances of the case and the profound impact the offenses had on the victims. Moreover, the NPA ensured that the identities of all the victims remained protected throughout the proceedings.
The successful prosecution of this landmark case underscores the unwavering commitment of the NPA in the fight against GBV. It reaffirmed their collective determination to eradicate violence against women and girls. The NPA said it remains steadfast in its mission to bring justice to victims of GBV and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
On October 3rd, 2022, the Zambia Police Service successfully rescued 13 girls who were held captive in a house in Lusaka’s Chalala area. The police had conducted a thorough investigation following Pamela Chisumpa’s abduction, leading to the arrest of five individuals connected to the case. Three were apprehended in Lusaka, while the remaining two were arrested in Kaoma, Western Province.
Reports later confirmed the capture of the remaining suspected abductors, Mathews Sikaonga and James Bwalya, as they attempted to cross into Angola. In a video circulating on social media, one of the apprehended abductors expressed remorse and apologized to the families of the kidnapped girls. He revealed their motive was financial gain, and they had planned to leave the country using the money they expected to obtain.
After the 13 abducted girls were rescued, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services took charge of their welfare, providing them with a Place of Safety as mandated by relevant legislation. The survivors underwent medical examinations to assess their health status and determine the extent of their sexual exploitation and abuse. Although they were reported to be in good spirits, the traumatic experience necessitated trauma and psychosocial therapy as part of their healing process.
The Ministry collaborated with social workers, psychologists from Chainama Hospital, the gender division, and non-governmental organizations to ensure the survivors received necessary support during their stay in the Place of Safety. Reintegration efforts were also undertaken, with the young women being reunited with their families after undergoing psychosocial and mental therapy.
The NPA’s successful prosecution of the abductors serves as a milestone in the fight against GBV. It sends a strong message that such heinous crimes will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The NPA remains committed to working tirelessly to protect the rights and safety of women and girls in Zambia.