TWO police officers of Choma have been sentenced to death by hanging for causing the death of a suspected thief. This is in a case Marstone Simweene, 38, and Muyunda Mufungulwa, 31, of Macha Police Post in Choma, were charged with murder.
On March 16, 2018, Simweene and Mufungulwa murdered Lemmy Mapeke. Livingstone High Court Judge Chilombo Phiri heard yesterday that on March 10, 2018, the duo received information from Mapeke’s father that his son was hiding in the house after stealing some goods and asked the police to apprehend him.
When the two police officers reached the place where Mapeke was said to be hiding, they teargassed the house after which they apprehended him. During interrogations, Mapeke led the two officers where the stolen items were hidden and they recovered the goods. Some other stolen goods were also recovered from Mapeke’s girlfriend’s home, where he led the officers after being beaten.
In her findings, Judge Phiri said there was direct evidence that the two officers assaulted Mapeke by beating him with a baton and a metal bar on the buttocks while rubbing teargas in his eyes. She said after being beaten, Mapeke could not even manage to drink water and that the officers were fully aware of his condition.
Judge Phiri said the officers further refused to allow Mapeke’s mother to give him food. She said the officers’ defence that Mapeke was killed by a mob was a mere afterthought and a conflict of evidence. Judge Phiri said the officers further lied that Macha Police Post did not have teargas and a baton, when it did.
She said when Mapeke’s girlfriend went to seek justice from Choma Police Station, she was referred back to Macha Police Post. Judge Phiri said evidence also showed that the police officers put Mapeke on a swing and repeatedly beat him. “I am satisfied that they both caused his death, they are responsible for his death.
“It is beyond reasonable doubt that the accused officers caused his [Mapeke’s] death and they ought to have known that beating someone in the manner they did could causes death,” she said. Judge Phiri said despite Mapeke fainting, the officers continued beating him, resulting in torture, which the law frowns upon.
“The accused persons had a common intention and ought to be found guilty. With the foregoing, the prosecution team has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. I have found no extenuating circumstances in the matter and will, therefore, go ahead and sentence them to death,” Judge Phiri said.
She ordered that the two police officers be hanged by the neck until pronounced and certified dead by a medical practitioner.