Family members of the late Joseph Zambwe who died, aged 33, on Saturday after he was reportedly run over by a car blame police negligence for the death of their relative.
Grief-stricken family members spoke to New Era on Saturday morning, shortly after they received a call notifying them that their relative had died in a car accident. The body was reportedly discovered about 500 metres from Katima Mulilo police station.
According to the family members, at around 05h00 that day an unidentified woman discovered she had just run over a body lying in the road. She immediately stopped and contacted the police.
Family members suspect the deceased had been lying in the road for a while before he was run over by the said driver. However, no logical explanation was given to the family members by the police about how the deceased got there.
The family says they were only told by the police that Joseph had been hit by a car and that the vehicle he was driving was found locked and parked next to the road at a different location.
This vague explanation got the family curious, as they could not understand how a person who was driving ended up being run over by a vehicle at a different location.
Upon conducting their own investigation they were informed by an eyewitness that the deceased was arrested by the police on Saturday at around 04h00 after his vehicle was found parked in the middle of the road while he and his friend were fast asleep. The had reportedly been drinking the previous night.
The police, however, released the deceased’s companion and took the accused to a police station. Upon learning this family members took to the police station to seek answers.
After meeting with Commissioner Boniface Mukendwa, the regional police commander, the family learned that the deceased was indeed taken to the charge office. However no further explanations were given of how and under what circumstances he left the charge office only to be found dead shortly after.
“They (police) told us to wait while they conduct their investigations. This is an act of negligence, because we also discovered that no paperwork was done to indicate that the person had been arrested,” said Charles Zambwe, a brother of the deceased.
Zambwe said they were told no paperwork was done, because there was only one officer on duty and there was too much to do. The officer who was on duty reportedly told the family he did not know how the deceased got out of the police station.
“What we want is for justice to prevail. We want the police to explain to us how our brother died, because no one wants to be held accountable for his death,” stressed Zambwe.
Contacted for comment Commissioner Mukendwa said the deceased escaped from police custody and the police should not be held accountable for his death. “They were five at the police station. The other four understood why they were brought there and remained at the police station, but he (Joseph) decided to escape,” explained Mukendwa. He also explained that it was a busy weekend and they were short on manpower and, therefore, could not keep a close eye on everyone.
“As I said, it was a busy weekend. Whether it (the arrest) was recorded or not, the fact is that he escaped from police custody and the police should not be blamed for his death. The others, who understood the law, remained and were later released,” he said.
Mukendwa also confirmed that the police had engaged the family and explained to them what had happened.