Mark Nchimunya Choongwa, a 34-year-old Airforce flight sergeant, has lost his life in an unfortunate incident after he was locked up for a minor traffic offence.
The handsome officer was alleged to have been beaten to death in a police cell at Woodlands police station in Zambia because of a minor traffic offence. The news of the death of this young man left his bereaved family members in shock.
The ugly incident left Zambia police service in a confused state as they tried to cover up the murder at all cost. The deceased was said to have been detained when his BMW accidentally hit a police car around Cummings Bar in Nyumba Yamba. An eye witness said the argument between Choongwa and the poilce officers started then.
"The ZAF officer who was in civil attire apologised to this plain clothed police officer and he took full responsibility of the accident but the cop phoned his friends from Woodlands Police and started beating up the ZAF guy. They beat him up until he was weak, that is when they threw him in the police cell and the female officer who was by reception ordered the detainees to beat the ZAF guy further,” the eye witness narrated.
“The inmates refused to beat the ZAF officer and told the female officer that the person they have thrown in the cells was already dead."
The account given by another witness revealed that the deceased introduced himself as an officer but that only infuriated the police officers the more. He was accused to have done what he did because he was a ZAF officer.
One of the inmates in the police cell stated that another police officer who happens to be a Judo trainer in detention started beating the ZAF officer who was weak based on instruction from the other police officers.
Choongwa was said to have become unconscious and the police rushed him to UTH where he was pronounced dead. His death was said to have been falsified as 'Traffic accident'.
While that was going on, his wife was trying to reach him. His phone had been switched off and she finally got to the police station where she was told he had died in road accident. From there, she went to UTH to identify his body.
The widow has been thrown into despair ever since then; she wept bitterly and vowed that those responsible would meet their doom soon.
It was discovered that he was the breadwinner of the family. Choongwa's elder brother said he was sure the deceased must have been provoked by the police officers.
His car which was initially taken to the Woodlands police station has been parked in his former home. Nelson Phiri, the Lusaka province police commissioner confirmed the death of Choongwa. However, he insisted that he was beaten by fellow detainees.
Phiri added that the police will charge the detainees with murder.
"The man died on his way to the hospital after having been beaten by fellow inmates in the cells. First of all, he caused an accident, bashed into somebody’s car. So that accident was reported at Nyumba Yanga Police Post and officers went to attend to it,” Mr Phiri narrated.
“But somehow he became violent, such that it had to take a reinforcement from Woodlands Police. He actually assaulted one of the police officers, so he had to be taken to Woodlands police station."
"So he was detained for assault on police, now in the cells again he picked up a quarrel with inmates there, who descended on him and beat him up. Others called officers who were on duty. The officers rushed there and saw that he was in bad shape. They tried to rush him to the hospital and on arrival there, he was pronounced dead,” said Mr. Phiri.
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