Thu, 13 Apr 2017 08:15:52 +0000


By Sandra Machima

THE Human Rights Commission investigations on the death of ZAF flight sergeant Mark Choongwa have revealed that the officer might have been killed at the instigation of some police officers.

HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on suspects was absolutely prohibited under the United Nations (UN) Convention.

Mr Mwandenga said the commission had recommended administrative action to be taken against the police officers for using excessive force and unlawfully detaining the late Flight Sergeant Choongwa.

He said that the officer-in-charge of Woodlands Police Station should give notice of Mark’s death (if it has not already been done) to a Coroner to hold an inquest pursuant to the provisions of the Inquests Act Chapter 36 of the Laws of Zambia.

“The holding of an inquest may help to resolve the critical issue of who should be charged with the murder of the late Flight Sergeant Mark Nchimunya Choongwa,” he said

He said the evidence adduced by all the witnesses clearly showed that the decision to detain the deceased was arbitrary, and that the manner in which the detention was effected revealed use of excessive force against the deceased.

Flight sergeant Choongwa was killed last month after being brutally assaulted by police officers and suspects at Woodland police cells in Lusaka.

This was after he was detained at the police station for a minor road traffic accident in which he allegedly slammed into someone’s car.

But the HRC in its own independent investigations into the death of the officer said there were different versions by different witnesses that were interviewed on how the officer met his death at Woodlands Police Station.

“There is therefore need for the police command to take action against excessive use of force and pre-trial detention.

Pre-trial detention ought to be used only in deserving cases where a person was a flight risk, and under the circumstances of this case, there was no evidence to show or suggest that the deceased was a flight risk.

In the worst case scenario, the police should have perhaps exercised their powers to impound the deceased’s motor vehicle for further traffic offence related procedures later in the morning or another day rather than resorting to use of excessive force and detaining him,” the report indicated.

The commission said that the witnesses recalled that each time the named police officer tried to get hold of the deceased, Mark repeatedly told the officer, “don’t touch me, don’t touch me” while keeping a distance away from the officer.

The Commission was further making the above recommendation because evidence from the witnesses suggested that the decision by the police to detain the deceased under the circumstances contributed to the loss of his life and they must also be held accountable.

He said it was the desire of the Commission that the rule of law will be adhered to so that justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done.


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