“We abducted and raped the girls,” abductors confessed
AFTER several failed delaying tactics, the juvenile criminal tag-team of James Bwalya and Matthew Siakaonga both aged 23 have admitted before the Lusaka High Court to abducting, raping and assaulting 13 young women.
What is left is now, is for the court to reward them with lengthy jail sentences.
Altogether, they faced 53 charges of abduction, rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, prohibition of trafficking in persons for purposes of sexual exploitation and aggravated robbery involving more than K100, 000.
Before pleading guilty today, the “hostage takers” tried every trick in the book to avoid prosecution. Bwalya even attempted to escape from prison.
However, all their attempts were futile.
Five days ago High Court judge Charles Kafunda declared Bwalya fit to stand trial today, after Dr Brian Sonkwe a consultant orthopedic and spine surgeon at UTH certified that he was in good shape as he (Bwalya)had recuperated from his spinal cord injury.
Bwalya injured his spinal cord when he fell from a five meter brick wall upon putting up a youthful bravado to break free from jail at Mwembeshi Maximum Correctional facility together with two other inmates, on February 26, 2023 during an interruption in power supply to the prison.
When the matter came up for plea Senior State advocate Bob Mwewa asked judge Kafunda to use initials of the captors’ victims when reading out the charges, as some of them were minors and Sections 81(5) and 25(3) of the Children’s Code Act no.12 of 2022 stipulate that names of children should not be revealed in any report including a law report.
Lawyer representing the “Kidnappers” Osborne Ngoma proposed that the State’s application to use the victims initials should not apply to those who are adults as Section 81(5) and 25(3)of the Children’s Code Act no. 12 of 2022, clearly referes to a child and a child in accordance with the Constitution is defined to be a person below the age of 18.
“It will be prudent to outline the year of birth of the said complainants so that the Court determines the age. We do not agree that a blanket decision should be made that even those above 18 should be identified by initials in court. We have perused through Article 18(11)of the Constitution which the State referred to. This refers to situation on whether to hold a case in camera or not. It does not relate to the instant case on the use of initials,” said Ngoma.
“Our objection is two fold, we agree that those aged 18 and below can have initials used instead of their names and those above 18 should have their names in full.”
In response Mwewa explained that the State’s intention is to protect the victims.
“We submit that the exclusionary powers of this court as opposed to just clearing courts can be used to limit the information, to protect the private lives of persons in the proceedings,” he said.
In his ruling judge Kafunda ordered that the complainants be referred to by their initials.
Court marshal Manase Phiri proceeded to read the charges to Bwalya and Sikaonga who admitted their guilt to 54 counts of offences against humanity.
Judge Kafunda adjourned the matter to June 8, 2023 for reading of facts and possible judgement.
By Mwaka Ndawa