Zambia snubs request for autopsy report

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    Namibia's minister of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah

    THE Zambian government has ignored requests by Namibia’s minister of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the head of the Namibian Police, Sebastian Ndeitunga, to release a post-mortem report on the deaths of seven Namibians killed in Zambia.

    This is according to a letter Nandi-Ndaitwah wrote to Oukwanyama Queen Martha Mwadinomho Klisian Nelumbu dated 12 October last year.

    Nelumbu initially wrote to Nandi-Ndaitwah on 23 July last year, presenting seven letters of grievances from the family members of the men killed by the Zambian police in Lusaka on 5 December 2019.

    In return, Nandi-Ndaitwah wrote: “Immediately after the unfortunate incident, the Namibian high commission in Lusaka requested the Zambian authorities to provide a post-mortem report, which would determine the cause of death.

    “Subsequently, the inspector general of the Namibian Police and myself have written to our respective Zambian counterparts to provide post-mortem reports. To date, such reports have not been furnished by the government of the Republic of Zambia. Kindly rest assured that the government of the Republic of Namibia continues to remain seized with the matter. The government empathises with the [families] and is in full agreement of the importance of the post-mortem reports to be released to bring closure to the respective family members.”

    The families of the deceased men requested information on how the men, suspected to be robbers, were killed.

    “The report from the Zambian police alleged that the victims exchanged fire with the Zambian police and were running away from the police. When we saw the bodies of our beloved relatives, they were not consistent with people who were running away from the police, but rather with people who were caught, tortured and shot at close range,” they wrote.

    The families believe the victims were shot at close range, but not while attempting to evade arrest by the Zambian police as claimed.

    The families say the Zambian police had no right to torture and subsequently eliminate “our beloved relatives in cold blood”.

    “If the deceased were a criminal gang as alleged, they were supposed to be apprehended by the police for the law to take its course,” the families wrote.

    They said their brothers were entitled to respect for their lives as per the Namibian Constitution and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the African Charter on Human rights to which Zambia is a signatory.

    On Thursday and Friday, the Ohangwena police and their Zambian counterparts exhumed the victims’ bodies so that Namibia could conduct a post-mortem.

    In December 2019, Zambian media reported that the police received a tip-off from members of the public that the men were about to stage a robbery.

    More information on the so-called planned robbery was not available.

    The deceased are Daniel Mbishi (32), Wilson Tetela (39) Haitembu Elifas (40) Elifas Ndeshikeya (29), David Mweuxwange (39), Samuel Kambonde (42), and Patrick Waandja (34).

    Nandi-Ndaitwah on Sunday did not say whether Zambia has released the requested post-mortem reports.

    “We got what we got from Zambia, but it’s a practice that with such incidents there is always a joint investigation. It’s on that basis that the two police forces have agreed on a joint investigation …” she said.

    Zambian minister of foreign affairs Joseph Malanji did not respond to questions sent to him, while Zambian high commissioner to Namibia Stella Libongani said the relevant authorities in Zambia are collaborating with their Namibian counterparts and the matter is being investigated jointly. “Once the joint investigations are concluded by the authorities, stakeholders, including yourself, will be informed accordingly,” she added.

    Credit: The Namibian

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