How one foreign truck driver was framed, arrested and abandoned by his lawyers for refusing to bribe court officials

Qubekani Dube passport number DN226111, national registration number 53 025999 E 53 is a cross border truck driver employed by Hermis transport owned by George Psaromatis in Congo.

On the 6th of December 2013 he entered Zambia through Kazungula border post in transit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. His journey took three days and on the 9th he exited at Kasumbalesa and entered into Congo. He was transporting a consignment of Calcined Magnesia that was destined for Kolwezi, situated 278 km from Lubumbashi.

He was stuck at Kolwezi where he offloaded and then loaded a consignment of copper that was destined for South Africa. He left the mine on the 28th of December 2013 and went to the company headquarters at Commune Annexe, Route Likasi, Joli Site.

DRC, where he joined more than 40 people who are employed in various departments by Hermis where he stayed until the 12th of January 2014. On 31st December 2013 he sent $50 from Lubumbashi to his son in Bulawayo. in the company of Mathew Murapa passport number DN237653, national registration number 63 1152738 J 42, they left the yard after 4pm in the bus that ferries the workshop staff into town and they bought groceries and drinks. He was then instructed to proceed to the border on the 12th in convoy with about 25 trucks and on the 13th of January 2014, he crossed into Zambia. Upon arrival in Zambia, he was arrested and told that he had robbed a bureau de change at Kazungula border post owned by Inter Africa. He sent me a message on WhatsApp and I took it lightly and advised him to assist the police with the investigations.

He produced his passport, his offloading documents, packing slips, toll gate slips and the deposit slip from Western Union for the money he had sent to his son on 31st December 2013. The employer also sent from D.R.C. an attendance register and the transcript from the mobile telecommunications company he was using in D.R.C. The police told him that he could not proceed with his truck and he had to leave it in Kasumbalesa and only the court could release him. I believe that for the police to arrest anyone they need to have done investigations which then point to a particular person. In this instance there are several issues that are left hanging like the fact that Qubekani Dube has several alibis, he went to Western Union and they probably have a CCTv, he went to the Hyper Psaro supermarket in town where he bought drinks that were to be consumed in celebration for new year. That shop also has CCTv. There were over 40 drivers that were in the yard on the day. Mambo Moyo who is also a driver for Hermis went to the police and explained that he came with Qubekani from South Africa, they crossed into Zambia on the same day. they exited Zambia on the same day and they were together throughout their stay in D.R.C. he was also arrested only to be released in Livingstone

He got a lawyer from KBF and Partners Major Masonga to represent him and all was going fine until major Masonga started sending Qubekani’s wife message soliciting for a bribe of $2000 purportedly for the public prosecutor. He mentioned that if the $2000 was not paid Qubekani would rot in jail. The case was supposed to be concluded by the 3 and 4th of July but the public prosecutor went on leave. It was adjourned to the 22nd of July and the lawyers told me that the public prosecutor’s child had stepped on a nail, the police at the court said they did not have transport to bring Qubekani to court and his case was adjourned to the 24th of July. On the 24th we went into court only to be told that the defense counsel had lodged an intention to withdraw from representing Qubekani.

We need help in every form to ensure that at least the matter gets speedy attention as it deserves and we seriously cannot wait for the expiration of a year as the Zambian constitution allows as this matter has only one witness when Qubekani has more than 40 alibis. The complainant states that he was kept in the bureau de change until 11 pm when it is very clear that at between 4 and 5 pm on the same day Qubekani was in Congo where he went to buy drinks for his colleagues after which time he boarded as taxi back. Wilson Tshaka also asked him to bring a bottle and he refunded him when they got back with Mathew. This precisely means that during the said period Qubekani was in Congo and Zambia at the same time.

The fact that the Zambian police have the audacity to arrest this gentlemen when all the evidence is pointing to the fact that he was very much out of the country means that there is no respect of the law in any way. This violation sets the precedent for the subsequent violation of his other rights. We cannot hope for a respect of his right to a speedy trial when there was a clear violation of his right to undisturbed existence and the fact that he is innocent until proven guilty. He has been treated as guilty already.

Merely looking at this period during which he has been incarcerated points to the fact that the legal system has no respect to the effect some events have on people. How is he expected to live normally in a society that has crushed his whole existence like this? What hope do we think we will keep in him when he knows that we are at the mercy of anyone who has access to a copy of your passport. How can a single person who has been held at gun point remember the person that has robbed them and then have a copy of their passport? How do they happen to have the copy of their old passport with a current date stamp? How did the police establish that the complainant did not embezzle the said funds and they chose to put the blame on someone else? How did they establish
that the bureau de change was closed for the rest of the day on 31 December? Why did they choose to overlook the fact that audits for Inter Africa are normally carried out in January and a robbery occurs just before then? Why would a bureau de change have $17000 on that particular day while on many occasions they rarely have much foreign currency? For an arrest to have occurred it means that the investigation was satisfactory. If it marred with these several issues then it will be dangerous to sit back and hope in Qubekani’s case. We are actually sacrificing a life and a family. The people that are witness on the defense are at any particular time spread across the sub region and it will be very frustrating for them to be required to travel only to be told that the trial cannot proceed because the public prosecutor is ill or his children are sick and that being the case for all the other stakeholders. We need to get to a position where the variables in this case are reduced to a minimal. The fact that an alibi was also arrested means that everyone now is very sceptical for their security should they be called upon to stand in court and give their account as witnesses.

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