Murder suspicion: Dr. Gavin Silwamba to be exhumed?

The family of the late Dr. Gavin Silwamba is suspecting foul play in the death of the former Central Board of Health director general.

The family has applied for a court order for his body to be exhumed. The family also want a fresh autopsy (post-mortem examination) conducted and a coroner’s inquest.

Dr. Silwamba, a former permanent secretary in the ministry of health, died by supposedly drowning in the blue lagoon in the Kafue National park, Mumbwa district.

At that time, Dr. Silwamba’s young brother Eric was quoted as saying that his brother had gone hunting in Mumbwa with his friend, Yuyi Lishomwa, and while there, they decided to use a canoe to cross to the other side when the canoe capsised.

“Well, the story we’ve been told is that the canoe he was in with his friend Mr Lishomwa from Spectra Oil, capsized. That is all we know as at now and we as a family are just making funeral arrangements,” said Silwamba, a former legal affairs minister.

But the Watchdog has been informed that the family has become very suspicious of what really transpired that day and want to get to the bottom of the matter.

Said one informed source to the Watchdog: ‘there was an autopsy carried out by a relatively young doctor.”

“The young doctor who conducted this autopsy has also died of ‘heart attack’ hence the family’s demand for a new autopsy”.

The case for the hearing of the application to exhume the body came up in a Lusaka court on May 9, 2010 but the case could not take off as the magistrate hearing the matter was said to be out.

  1. somob says:

    It will change something in that the pertrator of the crime will not go free. Let the family know the truth. If it was ordinary drowning then fine but if someone played a part then they have to be punished

  2. Zedian says:

    There is nothing wrong with exhuming Dr. Silwamba’s body. Those who think the family should just forget are being naive. What is at play here is the fact that the family deserves to know the truth. It is just simple logic! After all none of us felt what the family felt when he died knowing that the circumstances were not clear. Let the Silwambas do what they ought to do. Blubbering on this issue will not help!

  3. Political Sangoma says:

    “Evil men draw their swords and prepare their bows, to bring down the oppressed and needy, and to slaughter those who are godly. Their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.” (Psalms 37:14-15).

  4. Mwachepa says:

    As much as I agree that the family are entitled to demand the exhumation of Dr Silwamba’s body for a toxicology test, I think it is a waste of their time if the only evidence is because the doctor who did the initial post mortem later died of a heart attack. So what.. What they are doing is tantamount to accusing Mr Lishomwa of commiting murder….

  5. chibwachamazakala says:

    When you want to investigate a case so long ago without proper investigative tools, the chances are it will be a waste of time. Our systems are totally incapable for that. We may know there was foul play, but with the type of police we have, it may never be known at this late hour who did it. Let the good man enjoy his eternal rest.

    To those who think African primitivity is bad, think again. The African is the only woman who can live amid so much adversity and poverty and death. She does not look back at the bad past, she presses on to the brighter future. Bring a muzungu to live under our poverty and death of so many relatives. He will kola pusi

  6. Never quite pleasant to talk about the dead, especially about a man whose life was devoted to saving lives as was Dr Gavin Silwamba.
    I pretty agree that we are given very scanty details in the report as to why the drowning was suspicious,caused or attached with malice.
    I remember too that from the original story in the Post, the author did not inform us the circumstances,how many people were there, what efforts were made to save his life and so forth.
    Of course the need for the Police to sniff for the motive, such things as unsettled debt, family feud or what ever flowed between the deceased and who ever is suspected of committing such a hideous crime.
    In the absence of conclusive evidence, the world seems to believe that be it through traffic accidents, we Africans never meet untimely death unless witch craft or other person was involved.
    Again I am quick to point out that the death of a prominent citizen such as a doctor,lawyer,bank governor etc is well worth spending public funds for in the pursuit of allaying foul practice or establishing a safe and judicious society.
    I empathise with the family, in any case, we dont want life to be lost in callous circumstances no matter what.
    Is it not about time to start mounting security cameras in some locations in our cities, it could help.

  7. Zedian says:

    For those against exhuming, think again! If there was foul play, the perpetrators need to be punished. Otherwise, someone will get away with murder and they will do it again. By following this to its logical conclusion, another person’s life may be saved-maybe yours, or your dad’s. So, don’t even argue about how exhuming will not bring the Doc. back. That is a redundant argument.

  8. THE SAINT says:

    Another chilling example is the Gabon Disaster report. Zillion years have passed and not a single word from the authorities! Meanwhile, our footballers continue to fly for matches without understanding what happened to their predecessors on that fateful day! What if it happens again? What steps have been taken to prevent that from happening again? Some prominent Zambians have perished without anyone revealing how they died and what was the cause of death. In UK, no one took it for granted that Princess Diana had died in a car accident! Even soldiers who are dying in wars are accorded inquests to satisfy everyone that the deaths were not out of negligence! Ah! But not ku Zambia! You just hear that ‘10 people have died in a bus crash on the road to Mpika’ end of story. It has never been revealed how Ngenda, Wezi Kaunda, Gibson Chigaga, Dean Mungomba, Ronald Damson Penza, Edward Shamwana, Valentine Musakanya, Harry Nkumbula, Mainza Chona, Kebby Musokotwane, Humphrey Mulemba list goes on… died. Even the great baShimpundu Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe could not have died of a stroke! There are many conditions that mimic strokes. His head was not scanned (there were no scans in those days) but there was no post mortem! How was the diagnosis made? Some died after ‘an illness.’ What’s that? Oh! my beloved Zambians! Wake up and smell the coffee! Tomorrow, it may be you!!

  9. The Saint, I totally agree with you. Ba Watchdog, “The family has applied for a court order for his BOARD to be exhumed”. Is it not his BODY to be exhumed?

  10. THE SAINT says:

    Africa in general and Zambia in particular will always lag behind in knowledge because of refusal and failure to learn from issues. We never want to take lessons from anything and want things to be as they have been. A man dies, there is no inquest, nothing. It’s just ‘bury him and let’s move on!’ What kind of primitive thinking is this? Hospitals do not hold mortality and morbidity meetings to discuss deaths so that 1. Acurate statistics are kept and 2. Lessons are learnt so that future un-necessary deaths are avoided. Surviving relatives refuse to give consent for post mortems saying ‘It will not bring him back!’ Abanensu ku bulaya they are advancing because they enquire into everything and ask the right questions, even from childhood. Ifwe, umwana asks a question, the answer is ‘Shuddup! Why are are you asking? Uliwafitala iwe!’ Knowledge comes from inquisitive minds and that is what brings development. Unless and until this mentality changes, we will remain backward. If we carry on like this we will remain in the dark ages where disease was always ‘fya kubantu.’ Gavin was a nice man, amiable and friendly but his death must be enquired into. His work in ZCCM and CBOH may reveal motives for his ‘murder.’ We must find the true ‘actus reus’ and whether there was a ‘mens rea’ to have him dead. The shortage of Pathologists in Zambia is also a big problem. You cannot expect a junior doctor who last dissected a body as a student zonks years ago, to carry out a post mortem that can pass forensic examination! Biggie Nkumbula’s PM was in this category, though that was easier seeing he died from wounds. But for Gavin, questions have to be asked like; 1. What was in his stomach? 2. Where there any toxins in his blood? 3. If he was murdered and then drowned, there would be no river/lake water in his lungs. If he drowned was the water in his lungs, the same as that in the lake? etc etc. It may be too late now to answer some of these questions but we should learn NEVER EVER to take any death whatsoever at face value. Even people who die after ‘a long illness’ may have another cause of death, including suicide or homicide. Call Lt Columbo!

  11. Volcanologist says:

    Let my Doc rest in peace. He contributed alot to sharpening my skills and would not love to have him exhumed. Let my peace loving Doc rest.

  12. mubita says:

    It was incompetence on the part of the police not to have treated this death as a suspicious one in the first place. The circumstances should be investigated very carefully. Our attitude in Africa of saying that the investigation wont bring back the dead makes us tolerate so much rubish.

  13. veeeve says:

    Its sad but let the man rest in peace, he is dead and it wont change anything. RIP

  14. The Jinx says:

    eh,eh,eh….is there a God Father somewhere in zed….natina ine….

  15. PP says:

    The young doctor who conducted autopsy also died? The person who was with him wwhen he ‘drowned’ has a lot to explain. There is a enough suspicion here for police to move on

  16. Mulenga says:

    Its amazing how drowning has become so common in Zambia nowadays. We shall wait to hear the truth.

  17. Deja Vu says:

    My former Chief Medical Officer at Wusakile RIP

  18. big zack says:

    This is sad..let the man rest in peace.god will judge ..we know you lost but it won’t change anything as at now!

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