A total of 19 prisoners died from last month’s infamous Mukobeko prison brutal battering of prisoners by prison warders, but the government is determined to ensure that the matter is hidden from the public, while prison authorities are trying to implicate state house in the unexplained deaths.
And police have ordered that all police stations with occurence books (OBs) with details of prisoners who died in the brutal killings be surrenderd to central division headquarters to avoid leakage of information to the media and the general public. Postmortem results for the victims have also been witheld by police despite the assurance that they will be given to family members.
As further measures for the cover-up, all prisoners who witnessed the killings were hurriedly moved to Mwembeshi two weeks ago to make sure they do not talk. According to highly placed sources, the MMD constructed prison in Mwembeshi was not even ready for occupation but suddenly, orders were received to transfer the prisoners.
A reliable source from the prisons headquartes told the Zambian Watchdog that the alleged prison escape was an inside job which the inititaors thought would never leak. The source said money exchanged hands in order that those prisoners escape, that is why a reward of KR10,000 was only put up after exposure.
“It is not possible for any prisoner to escape from Mukobeko due to security measures put in place, the three prisoners were aided to escape and later on the authorities faked a ‘prison break’ to the amusement of the inmates who were now tortured in order that they disclose how their inmates escaped. As a security measure, whenever you get to prison, the authorities take a passport size photo and keep a database of your relatives and the moment there is an escape, it is supposed to be made public so that members of the public help in re-arresting the escapee, but the guys kept quiet until the media blew it up.”
According to the source, this annoyed the prisoners hence their violent act on the warders, who were later joined by all the recruits in training who now beat up all the prisoners resulting intop deaths.
The source disclosed that after the beatings 8 prisoners died while several others were seriously injured and 11 died in subsequent days but the prison authorities were releasing the bodies in bits. “When they (8 prisoners) died after the beatings, some bodies were taken to hospital but others were left in the prison cells and were just being released one by one to create an impression that they were dying from natural illness, the prisoners were made to care for the dead bodies right in the prison premises and when authorities realised that the number was big, there were attempts to fake execution orders from state house so that they (prison authorities) can account for the missing prisoners but the move is reportedly meeting resistance from state house as President Sata has categorically refused to be associated with the fake executions,” said the source.
But home affairs minister edgar Lungu to date has continued to deny that no prisoner ws beaten to death, the prison authorities have claimed that all those that have died, died from natural causes of death like illness. Lungu dismissed the claim when it was first raised in the house by Kasempa MMD MP Kabinga Pande. Lungu also refuted Pande’s informed claim that about 500 recruits were sent to beat up prisoners.
According to the source, every prisoner is under the custody of a prison warder and these are the warders who signed as next of kin whnever the bodies were taken to hospital on different days and that there are steps to be followed for an execution to be performed, so that is what is making state house stay away from that act. He said inmates were traumatised as they were meant to stay in cells with dead bodies, some of which were being moved in the night.
Meanwhile all books containing the murdered prisoners’ names have been withdrawn form respective centres and are being kept at police central division headquarters. The books include the Kabwe general hospital mortuary register, the occurrence books (OB) at Mukobeko maximum prison, and Kasanda and central police stations where the prisoners were reported as brought in dead (BID) cases and postmortem findings reports.
A source from the police said that last week, following a revealation in the media, the polce command demanded that in addition to the mortuary register which was taken three weeks ago, the OBs be removed from the police stations and Mukobeko prisons to avoid further leaks to the media. The source said the move to get OBs would make it difficult for police to operate because the books also contain other cases which they have to refer to from time to time. “According to police law, the OB is supposed to be kept at the police station for a period of 10 years and after that it can be handed to higher authorities and may be destroyed, but as it is those books contain cases that occurred at about the same time and as police stations we don’t know what to do if we want to refer to the cases,” said the source.
To date, the postmortem findings into the cause of death have not been made known to family members and the general public.