Wednesday 11 July 2018

Intelligence Officer Arrested for Homosexuality

By Paul Shalala

An Intelligence Officer from the Office of the President (OP) in Luwingu District, Northern Province has appeared before the  Magistrate Court for unnatural offences contrary to section 155 (a) of chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia.

Practicing homosexuality is illegal in Zambia and it carries a penalty of 15 years.

33 year old Moses Chanda of Lupili Township in Luwingu, appeared last week before Magistrate Davies Simfukwe for allegedly having canal knowledge of a 15-year-old boy of the same compound.

The Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) reports that on a dates unknown, but between 20th and 26th June 2018, Mr Chanda allegedly had canal knowledge of a named boy.

But during plea, the suspect denied the charge.

The matter has since been adjourned to 11th July, 2018 for commencement of the trial.

Mr Chanda is remanded at the Luwingu Correctional Facility.

This is the second case of homosexuality before the courts in Zambia at present.

In the central town of Kapiri Mposhi, two men are awaiting judgement after they were found with a case to answer in a matter where they are accused of practicing homosexuality.

On 7 May this year, Kapiri Mposhi Magistrtate Ackson Mumba found 30 year old Steven Sambo and 38 year old Japhet Chataba with a case to answer after both the prosecution and the defence finished presenting their witnesses.

The two are due for judgement on 20 July.

Friday 6 July 2018

Alleged Tokota Boys Drug Supplier Gets Six Months For Marijuana

By Paul Shalala
Bright Kafula

For the second time within two months, a suspected drug dealer has been given two different sentences in two different courts for the same crime.

28 year old Bright Kafula of Kitwe’s Kwacha Compound was arrested on 22 May, 2018 with 51 rolls of marijuana which the Police weighed and found to be 6.4 kilograms.

Kafula, who is popularly known as Kamasu, is believed to be the main supplier of drugs to criminal gangs like the Tokota Boys, the 90 Niggas and the Sons of the Devil gangs which have wrecked havoc in Kitwe, a major mining town and Zambia’s second largest city.

Over 60 gangs members are before various courts appearing for several cases such as rape, assault, unlawful wounding, idle and disorderly conduct, among other charges.

And Kafula is suspected to be the main supplier of drugs to these gangs which are mainly composed of teenagers and beat Kitwe residents at night in neighbourhoods where they have "shared" territory. 

Few days after being arrested, Kafula was taken to the Kitwe Magistrate’s Court.

Police handed over the 6.4 KGs of the marijuana to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) which prosecutes such cases.
The bag containing 51 rolls of marijuana
which Police officers found in Kafula's house

However, State Prosecutors at the court filed an affidavit which charged Kafula with trafficking 6.4 grams of marijuana instead of the 6.4 KGs Police found him with.

During trial, the suspect admitted having trafficked the drugs and pleaded for leniency.

On 30 May, Kitwe Magistrate Dominic Lesa found Kafula guilty and sentenced him to two months imprisonment but he suspended the sentence for 24 months.

This judgement was based on the 6.4 grams.

This judgement shocked Police officers who had arrested Kafula with the 6.4 KGs marijuana which he had hidden at home in a bag popularly known as Ukwa bag.

But when Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga heard about the judgement, she  complained that the evidence Police collected was not what was presented in court.

Ms Katanga told this blogger in an intyerview at the time that Police were shocked and disappointed that the 51 rolls of marijuana which was found in Kafula’s house weighed 6.4 kilograms and not what Prosecutors presented in court.

"This is so disappointing. We catch a criminal with drugs and go and reduce the evidence in court. We are shocked at the way this case has been handled. We are appealing this case so that the High Court can review it and see if the suspect can be tried for the real crime he was arrested for," said an angry sounding Katanga.
A Ministry of Health analyst confirms 
receiving 6.4 KGs

The audio of her disappointment can be heard in this television report this blogger did for Zambia's state broadcaster TV1 on 31 May 2018.

Later, the National Prosecution Authority appealed the case to the Kitwe High Court so that Kafula can be tried again.

But at the end of the judicial review, the Kitwe High Court quashed the  24 months suspended sentence slapped by the Kitwe Magistrates’ Court on Kafula and replaced it with a six months jail term with hard labour.

Kitwe High Court Judge Timothy Katanekwa said the decision by the Kitwe Magistrates Court to suspend a sentence for someone who accepted trafficking in drugs shocked him and defeats the purpose of the court.

Passing judgement, Justice  Katanekwa said he arrived at the judgement considering the 6. 4 grams which he was charged with and the fact that Kafula had accepted the charge and was a first offender.

However, when the case went before High Court Judge, State Prosecutors pressed for the review on the charge Kafula was facing so that it can reflect the 6.4 KGs of marijuana instead of the 6.4 grams.

The court later called for specialists to analyse the drugs which were before court.

But the High Court still did not find grounds to admit the argument by the state to admit the 6.4 KGs.

This is despite the fact that Sumbukeni Kowa, an analyst from the Ministry of Health confirmed receiving 6.4 kilograms of marijuana which the DEC provided to him for analysis as part of evidence in court.

But in his judgement, Justice Katanekwa says the argument that Kafula was found with 6.4 KGs of marijuana does not stand because the affidavit filed by Kowa cannot be relied upon.

Judge Katanekwa's judgement
Justice Katanekwa says the analyst did not weigh the drugs as expected and he has decided to base his judgement on the 6.4 grams which the suspect agreed to have trafficked.

It is however unclear whether the National Prosecution Authority will further appeal the Kitwe High Court's judgement to the Supreme Court especially that Kafula has again been sentenced based on a lower amount of drugs than he was found with.

With this six months jail term which is effected from his day of arrest 22 May 2018, it means Kafula will walk out of the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility in Kitwe in November this year.

He is reported to be a close friend of Mwamba Siame, a top "Commander" of the Tokota Boys criminal gang whose 20 members where caught on video assaulting a teenager and forcing him to eat his own faecal matter for belonging to a rival "The Hundreds" gang.

Siame, who is popularly known as Mayweather in the gang, has been on the Police "Most Wanted List" since May 2018 as he is the one who violently beat the teenager with stones and sticks in the video which went viral on social media.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Robson Maamba Jr: The "Boy" Who Defied All Odds

Robson at the White House recently
By Paul Shalala 

This year, 700 young African leaders are in the United States taking part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship at various universities.

Of those, 27 are from Zambia.

These lucky Zambian youths where among over 1,000 youths who applied for the 2018 fellowship but only 27 were selected.

Among those fellows are people from various backgrounds and in the coming weeks, I will be profiling a number of them.

As a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow myself, I mentored one of those fellows, Robson Maamba Jr to apply.

He first applied for the 2017 fellowship but he was left out.

This frustrated him and he vowed never to apply again.

But after a lengthy process of negotiations, he finally agreed to apply for the 2018 fellowship and he was selected.

I must mention that Robson and I have been close friends for close to 15 years now and we shared a lot in common after we both left tertiary education: joblessness, hunger to work for God, searching for marriage partners, etc.

In this question and answer article, Robson explains the difficulties he has gone through in life and how he has managed to overcome life and reach where he is.

Paul: First of all Robson, tell our readers who you are.

Robson: I’m a third born in a family of seven, 4 boys and 3 girls. We have always been a happy family despite my father being a farm labourer and my mother being a full time housewife in Lusaka West’s Sekelela area. Around 1987 my father could not take it anymore receiving slave wages and decided to quit his job as a farm supervisor and relocated to Chawama Compound to try his luck elsewhere. With all my siblings we moved into a two roomed house with one being used as our parent’s bedroom and the other working as spare bedroom, lounge, dinning and kitchen.

My father’s next job was that of being a marketeer (trader) at the Old Soweto Market, where the current Lusaka City market sits today. He owned a stand were he sold tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. During the maize marketing season he would sell maize.

Paul: From that business, was dad able to send you to school.

Robson: In the early 1990s getting a school place in Grade 1 was so difficult because of the population in many compounds in Lusaka. My father struggled to find me a place within Chawama until he managed to find one at Chinika Primary School which is located in Chinika Industrial Area and about 15 kilometers from Chawama. During Grades 1 and 2, my father would give me transport money upto Town then I would walk from Kulima Tower bus station to school. When I was just getting into Grade 3, life became so hard for my father that he could no longer manage to give me transport money to school and even buying me proper shoes became a problem. Eventually I begun walking the 15 kilometers distance to school. I did this because I loved school.

With the continued financial challenges my father could no longer manage the town life and it was time to quit his tomato business and head back to Lusaka west in 1993. Because it was believed school going pupils are not to be disturbed from school, my two sisters and I remained in Chawama with our grandmother so we could continue with our school. My grandmother’s only business and survival tool was that of selling the illicit local brew ‘Kachasu’. My sisters and I participation in this business and our role was going to order in bulk from Jack Compound which was later sold in retail at my grandmother’s house. We automatically became chief testers of the beer as during ordering we would be given to test if we were getting the best brew to satisfy our customers.

Paul: I guess life was so hard in Chawama, how did you manage to survive with the long distance to school?

Robson: At this point, my entire family were staunch Catholics and I served as an Alter Boy (Kampenga) at Chawama’s Regina Parish. Things started getting tough in terms of finances for my grandmother to fend for us such that even soap and body lotion became a problem to come by. At some point my uncle who was then a mechanic brought us automobile greeze which we used as vasilene. After applying this greeze then walking 15 kilometers to school was something else. I recall one day my friend in class making fun of me saying somebody in here smells like a motor vehicle. The continued suffering forced my siblings and I follow our parents in Lusaka West. At this point my parents had converted to Adventism as my father was now Farm Manager for Rephidim Institute a support Ministry of the Seventh day Adventist Church. With no time we all converted to be Adventist. And we were all transferred to Lusaka West Basic School where I did my grades 5 to 7.

Robson's parents
Paul: Tell us about Secondary School

Robson: My father’s financial hardships had not yet been solved but we kept going. After seating for my Grade 7 examinations, I came out to be the best student and was selected to Kafue Boys Secondary School. My father’s salary was not enough to meet my new school fees and he would every term get a salary advance that left the entire family starving for at least two months after opening schools. Knowing how much my family suffered so that I get to school was a serious motivation for me to study even harder. I remember one time during the PTA Annual General Meeting my father only managed to find transport money to bring him from Lusaka West to Kafue boys and told my mother to buy maize and pack some guavas for me and that’s all I received whilst my colleagues in the dormitory were eating chickens, cakes, and others received pocket monies. I had to endure this embarrassing moment as my friends kept mocking me that “how can your father bring boiled maize and guavas.” This experience is one of the driving forces that propelled my potential and made me study even harder so that I could bring change in my family. And true to this, after grade 9 I was among the best students which saw me being selected at Hillcrest Technical High School in Livingstone to join the rest of the “Crème dela Crème” as we were fondly known.  It is at Hillcrest Technical School were I began to develop leadership ambitions. In Grade 10 I became a Dormitory Captain,  a position that exempted me from cleaning toilets, sweeping around but was only confined to supervising my fellow grade 10s and assigning them duties.

During my 3 year stint at this school I continued striving for excellence and developed interest of becoming a lawyer. I engaged myself in a number of clubs such as Press Club where I was Editor, Cultural Club where I served as President and I also served as President for Drama Club. The serious test of leadership came when I was chosen Headboy for the school, leaving other boys who were coming from richer and exposed families, compared to me a son of farm labourer who struggled to raise my school fees. During my time as Headboy, I learnt my own leadership lessons through many mistakes that almost shuttered my future because I forgot where I came from due to the authority which was bestowed on me. The only positive outcome from Hillcrest is that I came out with flying colours.

Paul: After Secondary School, did you attempt to become a lawyer as you earlier mentioned?

Robson: Seeing that my Grade 12 results  were exemplary, I was so sure I would go to the University of Zambia to pursue my dream career Law. I however could not be admitted into the School of Humanities and Social Sciences due to the fact that I never took any social science subjects at high school. Had my Career masters at school counselled me well from Grade 10, it would be a different story today. Not wanting to go into the School of Natural Sciences were I would have fitted well, I came to learn of Library Studies and got interested to pursue it and what motivated me was the fact that it was a double major and I had an option to pick any Social Science major. Without wasting any further time, having lost a year already, I quickly applied for Bachelor of Arts with Library and Information Studies, and this time around there was nothing to come into my way and the acceptance letter was given to me. Colleagues advised me about the bursary that the Government was awarding to deserving candidates and I gave it a shot. Fortunate enough, I was offered a 100% scholarship which was a huge relief to my father who struggled for 12 years for my school. With my interest in the governance system, I picked on Public Administration as my other major and from the word go I was in love with it more than the former.

My university life was all rosy as I had no worries on who would pay for me and further who would buy for me food as all this was well taken care of by the Government Republic of Zambia through a Bursaries scheme.  Everyone back home was eagerly waiting to have the first graduate in the family and my father was so proud of me that not only did he give me his name but I was without any doubt his favourite child. I looked forward to graduating so that I could make him more proud and for him to somehow reap from his sweat. Only July 13th, 2008 whilst doing my third year my father was brutally murdered by unknown people in Lusaka’s Bauleni Township. I was called from school 3 days after his disappearance from home to try and find him. We began by searching for him from Police Stations within Lusaka and then finally, we went to UTH were we got a pass to search the mortuary. It was my first time to enter a mortuary in my entire life. Reality dawned on me as we checked body after body in the BID section when we found our father’s body badly injured lying in a pool of blood. This was a tragedy that shuttered me and the rest of the family. The scene of seeing my dead father in the mortuary has failed to leave my head 10 years after this tragedy.

My once happy UNZA days were now gone as I had to share my K450 meal allowance with my mother, my two siblings: one who was in Grade 10 and the other in Grade 4. My father never left any house and rentals had to be paid too. This was the waste experience I have had at such a tender age. I vowed never to abandon my two siblings as that would be the only way I would have rewarded my father for his sacrifices on me to be where I am today. I continued hustling through providing tuition to mature entry students in various courses beyond what I was studying who later paid me so I could manage to meet my family obligations. 

Paul: Losing a parent who sacrificed so much for you must have been so painful. Now tell me, fter your graduation, how was life?

When he graduated from the University of South Africa
Robson: During my graduation I was surprised to see a Rosa Bus full of people from my childhood place Chawama coming to witness their own son of the soil making it. This was a first as the normal trend in the compounds, youths indulge in substance abuse and other illicit activities. A surprise party was then arranged after the graduation ceremony in Chawama where I was given a hero’s welcome and many other young stars also got interested to go to university.

As the case maybe, jobs in Zambia are not easy to get so was the case with me. I could not go back to my mother’s place as she and my siblings looked up to me for sustenance after graduating from UNZA. I gathered myself and moved to Kamanga Compound to live with my cousin as I looked for employment. My uncle offered me something to do at Chelston Small market were I became I cashier in his barbershop and would help with other issues in his business. In the company of my former course mate at UNZA Brian LIambai now working with Ministry of Health in Western Province, we would walk from Chelston to Town dropping unsolicited application letters in various companies. At the same time with my long time friend Daniel Sicheka we begun buying navy blue jackets from salaula and putting Adventist Youth badges on them which we sold to youths in the church. This business and some monies that my uncle gave me from the barbershop I was able to contribute to our rentals with my cousin, pay for my siblings school feels and gave some upkeep money to my mother.

Paul: This sounds like you became a Tamanga as Lusaka people would call it?

Robson: yes I was a Tamanga. In about 1 year 2 months of leaving UNZA, I was no longer with my uncle’s business and this time around I secured a stand in Kamanga market were I sold mealie meal in small packs popularly known as pamela, salt and cooking oil in smaller packages. Many people in the market could not admit whenever I told them I was a university graduate and thought I was just lying. I continued doing this alongside the jacket business and one in a week I would walk around Lusaka dropping application letters.

In August 2011, remember we lost one of the Youth leaders in the SDA church in Kabwe, Daniel Sicheka, yourself and I travelled for the burial in Kabwe’s Katondo township. Shortly after the burial, we were met by the then Union Youth Director Pastor Reuben Muyunda who offered us a lift from Kabwe to Lusaka. On our way coming he begun asking us what we were doing for a living when my turn came I told him I was a graduate from UNZA whose seriously job hunting. He asked me if I knew anything about Rusangu University , trust me it was the first time I was hearing about it, I requested for the postal address and that very day when we reached Lusaka I wrote an application letter and sent it via post office. Four months down the line I received a phone called from Rusangu asking me to send reference letters from church and anywhere I had worked before. I did not have trouble getting references from church because at this point in a time I was serving as Youth Chairman for over 21 Mission Districts. But I had problems getting references from work places and I quickly rushed to my uncle who wrote a powerful reference for me following the works I offered In his barbershop. Three weeks later, I was invited for interviews at Rusangu University and that’s how my job hunting ended on 1st January, 2012.

Paul: Tell us about your life at Rusangu University.

Robson: Knowing that I still owed my family a lot through their sacrifices, I quickly got my young brother Onishias who had then been sitting at home for two years doing nothing. I moved with him to Monze where the university is located and enrolled him even before I received my first salary. God found a way of providing and as I speak my brother is now a university graduate in Journalism. He is a Station Manager for a community Radio Station in Chipata. I now remain with my youngest sister who is just begun her second year pursuing a degree at university. For the sake of my father and mother’s scarifies, I will stop at nothing until this girl becomes independent, that’s the only time when my hero father’s spirit will be happy.

Paul: You have really been an inspiration to your family in so far as leadership is concerned. Now tell us about your journey to America.

Robson: As an individual I have done personal growth such as upgrading my studies to an Honors Degree from University of South Africa and now am doing the final part of my Master in Information Science. A proud husband of one wife and two daughters. I believe in women empowerment and I took it personal to educate my wife from being a Grade 12 to being a University Graduate within our five years of being married. Today she holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Rusangu University and is an officer in the Zambia Police Service.

Leadership has always been a good companion even where I don’t want to serve I find myself in the driving seat, I have held positions in the community, church and professional bodies. In the year 2016 I read something on Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), that same year, one of my good friends was selected for Mandela Washington Fellowship program. I developed interest in learning more about it and in the same year when applications for 2017 opened I decided to give it a try, unfortunately I only received an email later that my application was rejected as it did not qualify to meet the selection criteria. I was so disappointed and shuttered especially the day I saw people on Facebook leaving for USA. I told myself never to give up and begun preparing for next applications to open.

In September 2017 when the applications opened I again applied and this time around I never had any confidence of even making it somewhere because last year’s failure was still paining. In January, 2018 whilst working in my office I received a call from the US Embassy inviting me for the interviews in a week’s time. I travelled from my home in Monze to Livingstone where the interviews where taking place. After the interview I was told if I do not hear from them by 16th March, then I should know that I am not successful, it was the longest two months I have endured and finally the said day came but there was no correspondence from the Embassy.  At  this point I did not want to believe that the last years’ experience had repeated itself. Two days later as I opened my computer in my small office I was greeted by an email from the US Embassy congratulating me for being selected to the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship and I was asked to mention if I was still interested to participate. I sat in my chair motionless for close to an hour failing to believe that it was me. After an hour I gladly replied that I was still interested to participate.

Looking back at my background, having been a chief tester of kachasu, applying greeze as lotion, living in shanty compound and later being a farm boy, it is unbelievable that I will be flying to the world’s greatest country the United Stated of America for 6 weeks at Howard University in Washington DC, were I will receive training in Public Management and join other 699 young Leaders from Sub Saharan Africa. It only pains me that my hero is not there to see how his labour is yielding fruits impacting other lives especially the underprivileged in our communities.
On the day his wife graduated from Rusangu University

This week marks the third week the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows have been in the United States.

Robson has been all over Washington, DC checking out the land marks that he usually used to see on television or in books.

Back home, his young brother Onishias shared some words with me on how this Mandela Washington Fellow played a role of a dad in their family after their father’s brutal murder 10 years ago:

Robson is a fighter, that is how I described him and there is no definition that better describes him other than that. Personally he is more than a brother but also a friend and a mentor from whom I draw much inspiration from. I remember after the demise of dad in 2008, while I was in my 11th Grade and he was in third year in University, he defied all odds and become the administrator of dad's estate. He was young yet he managed to preside over the affairs of the family.”

Onishias also recalls how Robson resembles their father in his leadership traits.

“He is better placed to be Junior, because he is typical of dad who was a devoted family man. Here i am practicing Journalism, it was made possible through Robson's dedication. Hescarified his salary to see me through University. He single handedly managed to sponsor me to University till the day I graduated. I would write volumes and volumes about him but my biggest wish for him is that the Lord should continue blessing the labours of his hands.