Fishermen testify in Dr. Silwamba inquest

THREE fishermen from Namwala have narrated how they were extensively interrogated by C5 police officers following the drowning of former health permanent secretary Dr Garvin Silwamba in Blue Lagoon National Park last year.

This is in an inquest into the death of Dr Silwamba during a hunting expedition in Blue Lagoon National Park in July last year, which is before Lusaka magistrate Bartholomew Kaongo.

George Mwansa, 27, a fisherman residing at house number B75 in Lusaka’s Kanyama Compound, testified how he responded to a call for help from the paddler who was with Dr Silwamba when he drowned.

Mwansa said on that Saturday he had gone to Namiyona River in Namwala area to catch fish.

“At around 09:00 hours whilst I was on the river I heard someone shouting for help. I heard for the first time, second and then for the third time. When I went to where the voice was coming from, I found a man who was shouting for help and came to know him,” Mwansa said. “We fish together and we stay in the same fishing camp.”

Mwansa said the man told him that they had been hunting for birds when their boat capsized.

“The man whom he was with had remained in the water because he could not make it and he is dead,” he said. “I told him to touch my boat and after sometime it was when I helped him into my boat. It was when the two of us went to call other people.”

In cross-examination, Mwansa said he went to change his clothes after retrieving Dr Silwamba’s body and took it to the harbour.

In re-examination, Mwansa said Lusaka businessman Yuyi Lishomwa was not among the people that retrieved the deceased’s body from the water.

“I saw him at the harbour after the body had been retrieved,” he said.

Mwansa said after some days, he with two of his friends were taken to Dr Silwamba’s residence by a police officer from the C5 section, identified only as Boniface Katongo.

“They started interrogating us. We were three of us. They asked us what happened to Dr Silwamba. I gave them what is on the statement before court,” said Mwansa.

Another fisherman, Bernard Mulenga, 33, of plot 25/17 Kanyama Compound said on the material day, he had gone to the river with a colleague to check on their fishing nets.

He said after catching the fish they were on their way to the shore when they met a man who informed them that they had rescued a person who had almost drowned on the river.

“That the other person he was with had drowned. The survivor led us to the spot where the body was and we managed to pick the body and managed to put it in the very boat that had capsized,” Mulenga said. “It was an elderly man dressed in a blue jean and a white coat and a silver wrist watch. We even got a cooler box and we handed him over to his counterpart whom I came to know as Lishomwa who just came to the boat when it was at the shore to check the body. He expressed shock.”

Mulenga said he was not privy to how Dr Silwamba drowned but that he was also interrogated by police officers on several occasions over the circumstances around the drowning.

Twenty-year-old Rodgers Musonda also of Kanyama Compound testified that he was in the company of Mulenga when they were called to help retrieve the deceased’s body.

He said it was in August 2009 when they were approached by two police officers who took them to Dr Silwamba’s residence in Lusaka.

“They started asking us over the death,” said Musonda. “After the interrogation they let us but the one who was paddling was taken by the police officer.”

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