Monday, 4 November 2013

Wezi Kaunda: Another Victim of Political Assassinations

24 years ago today, Wezi Kaunda, the son of first Kenneth Kaunda was shot and killed by hired bandits.  Police managed to kill one suspect and went to pick a bus driver, taxi driver and another accomplice. The taxi driver Allan Mubanga 
Sungwe was later turned into state witness, while the bus driver 
Moses Mulenga and Amon Banda were charged and sentenced 
to hang for murder. During trial the duo denied the charge 
and mentioned that they had been sent to kill Wezi Kaunda, 
but no probe was taken to establish who sent them 
and were they had got the weapon used to kill the victim
By Nyalubinge Ngwende 
On November 3 1999 Wezi Kaunda, the son of Kenneth Kaunda Zambia’s first president, was shot and killed by armed ‘hired’ assassins’.

The killing of the younger Kaunda is yet among what strongly appears as political assassinations that rocked Zambia in the second republic from the early 1993 to 2000 but yet remain inconclusively investigated and prosecuted.

Late Wezi Kaunda
Initially the killing was seen as a carjacking motive that went wrong, but the Toyota GX Land Cruiser, registration number AAL 5948 that was taken from Kaunda was later abandoned.

This cancelled the police line of thought of carjacking that they wanted Zambians to believe was the motive of the killing.  

The state had earlier charged two people Moses Mulenga, a 28-year-old bus driver, and Allan Mubanga Sungwe, a 20-year-old taxi driver for the murder.  Later a third person Amon Banda was mentioned in the case and Sungwe was turned into State witness. Sungwe had driven Mulenga and Banda to Major Kaunda’s home in Kabulonga after the two hired his taxi.

But in dramatic appeal case against their conviction in 2010 in the Supreme Court presided over by now acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda, Enerst Sakala and Marvin Mwanamwambwa, Amon Banda was in the process set free while Mulenga confessed to the murder.

It took seven years for Mulenga to be troubled by his conscience to confess taking part in the killing and told the court he did not want to continue with the appeal case. 

Senior Legal Aid counsel Kelvin Muzenga said he was appearing for the second appellant, Banda and that Mulenga would represent himself as he had something to inform the bench. Mulenga then told the court that he deeply regretted the matter over which he was in court and to clear his conscience, he was abandoning the appeal. “My conscience cannot allow me to go ahead with this appeal because everything that the judge in the lower court found I had done, I did.”  

Mulenga admitted taking part in the stealing of the vehicle and the shooting of Major Kaunda, adding that he did it out of banditry and that no one sent him or hired him to do so. 

Mr Justice Sakala asked Mulenga if he had consulted widely before he decided to drop the appeal and Mulenga said he had and that he did it because of his troubled conscience.

As for Banda, Mr Muzenga said the trial judge misdirected himself when he convicted his client based on uncorroborated evidence. 

He said the trial judge relied on the evidence given by three witnesses, who were the taxi driver that drove the two to Major Kaunda’s house, Major Kaunda’s wife and a third witness.

Mr Muzenga said Mrs Kaunda was traumatised at the time she was identifying Mulenga and Banda and therefore gave weak evidence while the other two witnesses were accomplice witnesses who had interests to serve.

 High Court Trial
On July 25, 2003 two men were sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of Major Wezi Kaunda the son of Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda. 

Judge Gregory Phiri sentenced Moses Mulenga, 32, and Amon Banda, 36, to hang following a long legal battle in which the two accused maintained their innocence and at one moment mentioned that they had been commissioned to kill their victim.

The duo were part of the four men believed to have been involved in the killing of Major Wezi Kaunda, who was shot dead outside his house in 1999. 

Wezi Kanuda was shot on November 3, 1999 as he arrived in a driveway at his Kabulonga home.
Tony Thompson of The Observer wrote on November 14, 1999:

“He and his wife, Didre, were driving home to a suburb of Lusaka in his Toyota Landcruiser when they were approached by a group of armed men. According to Didre, Kaunda told the gang: 'I am Major Wezi Kaunda. Please take my car, take whatever you want. I am not resisting. Spare my life and my wife. Just take the car.'
The gang replied: 'We know who you are. Do you think we don't know? Shoot him.' The men ordered Kaunda out of the car and shot him in the stomach, back and shoulder. He was rushed to hospital, where he died a few hours later. The car was found abandoned, but nothing had been stolen.”

The former president, Kenneth Kaunda cut short his political trip to the UK tp return home to mourn his son. The older Kaunda believed his son Wezi was killed by the MMD administration under Frederick Chiluba. 

The MMD leadership wanted the younger Kaunda dead to stop him from standing as a future presidential candidate, he suggested.

Apparently Wezi Kaunda, a former army officer, exhibited charismatic leadership and was the most politically active of Kaunda's children. He was already chairing the Independence founding party in the capital Lusaka while word was strong that he was going to succeed his father in the coming month at the time he was killed.

Mulenga and Banda were pleading guilty throughout the trial and at some moment mentioned that they were recruited and paid to kill Wezi Kaunda. 

It never tickled the investigation wing of the police to probe the case any further to establish the claims of the duo that they were hired. 

However, former President Kaunda repeatedly accused his successor Dr Chiluba, who defeated him in 1991 elections, of wanting Wezi Kaunda dead.

Least was any effort made to question Mulenga the kind of fire arm he used and where it could have been issued and who the other accomplices who were part to the killing were. 

Later in 2001, Nawakwi disclosed that then minister without portfolio [Michael Sata] supported the police issuance of fire arms to MMD cadres. 

Nawakwi’s disclosure followed an attempted assassination of Kabwata councillor Brandina Kamuzhyu—shot at point blank by an MMD cadre, Chilekwa Mukonge.

 “[...] The attempted murder of councillor Kamuzhyu would be blamed on the MMD leadership because minister without portfolio [Michael Sata] assured the public that the guns which were given to the MMD youths [by police Inspector General Sailas Ngangula] would not be used on human beings. “I hope he can say that again,” Nawakwi said. People like Scorpion Kadobi were given the gun on March 26 this year as second hand first issue. Any gun issued in this manner should be from police stores” (We’ll Fight Back Warns Miyanda, The Post, No. 1756, Monday June 18, 2001)
It would be interesting to revisit Mulenga’s trial, just in case another conscience has hit him to tell the truth where he got the gun to kill Wezi Kaunda and may be tell the country about those who commissioned him. 

This is especially that Scotland Yard that were brought in by government to investigate Wezi’s murder, left the country frustrated due to lack of corporation by police authorities to provide them with necessary information to proceed with forensic probe.

It is this same frustration that made Scotland Yard to refuse to come and help the Zambian government to resolve the murder of Paul Tembo in 2001.

Next the Brutal Journal will look at the assassination of Ronald Penza on November 6. Also have a look at a list of other unresolved political assassinations that occurred between 1993 and 2000 in the country.