Chilanga UPND member of parliament Keith Mukata who is charged with murder has parted company with his lawyer Eric Silwamba.
Mukata and his concubine Charmaine Musonda are accused of murdering a security guard, Namakambwa Kwenda on May 6, 2017.
Mukata had been represented by Eric Silwamba and co from the day he was arrested but he has since hired one Milner Katolo to save him.
It’s not clear if it’s Mukata who fired Silwamba or Its Silwamba who abandoned his client, but sources in the legal fraternity say ‘they differed on strategy’.
According to sources, Mukata, who is also a Lawyer, was very sure that he would be found with ‘no case to answer’ but when he was found with a case to answer, he started doubting Silwamba’s abilities.
Under the counsel of commercial Lawyer Milner Katolo, Mukata opened his defence by asking “in the name of God, on what basis would I have murdered my own security guard with whom I had a close relationship?”.
He narrated that on May 6, 2017, he arrived at his law firm, AKM Legal Practitioners around 14:00 hours and that his friend Suke Chile, a musician, visited him around 18:00 hours to organise a fundraising event for one of the hospices in Chilanga.
“He stayed for about an hour and I escorted him outside. After he drove off, I went to the gate to have a chat with the guard. The guard was with his friend who guards the next yard. On that day I knew that he hadn’t eaten so I gave him some money, K200 and told him to share with his friend. I informed him that I was expecting visitos so I told him not to take long to usher in people,” Mukata said.
He narrated that around 19:30, his uncle arrived in the company of his friend and they started chatting.
Mukata testified that around 20:30, Charmine arrived from Makeni but informed him that she was just passing time as she had a meeting a Raddison Blu.
“At 21:00 hours, she left and came back about an hour 30 minutes later. Around 24:00 hours, uncle decided to take leave. Soon afterwards, Charmine also wanted to leave. She took her bag and a basket which she had used to bring food for me that same morning,” he said.
He narrated that as they were still in the office, his guard went to his window and alerted him that he had seen some intruders at the servants quarter.
“I told him to alert his friend, the guard next door as well. I told him to investigate and advise. I went to the back of the door, and I decided to alert a friend of mine honorable [Stephen] Kampyongo about the intrusion. Barely three weeks earlier, we had the same incident where people had entered our yard. I had called honorable Kampyongo again and he had helped by dispatching C5. When they came they were interrogating two people whom they met on the road,” Mukata testified.
“But on the material day when I informed honorabole Kampyongo the officers did not arrive fast. I had just finished talking to him on the phone when the guard reappeared at my window and he told me that after checking, he found that the small gate at the back was open. I told him that I had called for help so police reinforcement was on its way.”
Mukata told the court that Charmine then went outside and he followed her behind.
“I saw a tall guy holding Charmine. He let go of her hands and he ran towards me. I was in the car and I applied brakes, I came out of the car and ran to the gate, there was a man wrestling with the guard. I realized that we were in a dangerous situation. I got my fire arm and fired two warning shots in the air. There was no reason to fire directly to the gate because there was a guard,” he narrated.
He testified that he only fired warning shots to alert people that he was armed.
He said after he fired the second shot, he heard a gunshot from outside.
“I lost my nerve, I ran to the left, I was shouting for help. I said ‘help! Bakabwalala (thieves)! I heard two gun shots from outside. I got scared, I realized that these people were carrying weapons. I noticed they were trying to pull the guard out of the gate. They were clustered at the gate, I was screaming for help and I heard the guard shout, ‘Bo honourable! They have shot me!’ He was crying in pain. At that point, I fired another shot and he was screaming for help. They ran away. I found the guard laying down, holding himself on the neck,” Mukata told the court.
“I took away his hand and sat him upright. I rushed outside for help. I had no idea where Charmaine was. I went to the VX vehicle and brought it near the guard. I wanted to lift him but he was too heavy and he was wincing with pain. I started calling for help, I wanted to get him to the vehicle. I called Charmaine and asked her to help. She was shaking, she held him and we tried to lift him but we failed.”
He testified that he went to the restaurant next door and asked the owner, Kumar, to help him lift the guard but he refused.
“He refused and he closed the gate. He told me that he had already alerted police so I should wait for the police. I was shocked with the way he behaved. At that point I called honorable Kampyongo and informed him that the officers had not arrived and he said ‘mwana, I am home but let me call them again’,” he said.
Mukata told the court that when he returned to the law firm, he saw three cars approaching and assumed they were police officers.
“I told them, ‘please gentlemen, my guard has been shot, come and help. They surrounded my vehicle and came to me. They were led by Kumar and there was a man in a white t-shirt and another one who had dreads. The one with dreads told me to handover my gun and reverse my vehicle. I asked them if we could take the guard to a hospital but they said, ‘you wanted to kill now you are telling us what to do?’ the other gentleman pulled me and I realized that I was in a hostile situation. A2 (Charmaine) was standing by the gate and I reversed the vehicle. They got her and came with her inside. They ordered us to seat down,” he said.
“They started removing things from the vehicles, others got a black bag pack, removed headphones, CDs and they dumped them near the BMW. The atmosphere was chaotic. People were aggressive and literally drunk. They had beers and were uttering unpalatable, insulting me. The insults were personal. They said I was going to be fixed.”
He said he later came to realise that some of the men were police officers from Emmasdale.
“They took the gun and cartridges and put them on a magazine. They started taking pictures of the passport, Dollars and Rands and they were saying that I would get embarrassed. Charmine protested because they were throwing her makeup. I noticed that the guard was placed in the van. I didn’t know at that point if he was alive. I complained about the harassment and I told one of the officers that maybe they planted things on me. But he told me to get out. The vehicles were unlocked and the crowd remained. The guard had already been taken to the hospital,” Mukata said in uncoordinated speech punctuated by “ummmm”, aaahhhh”.
Mukata became emotional as he explained how unfortunate it was that people could suggest that he murdered his guard who was loyal, elderly and well respected.
He said murder was a heinous crime and he would never have murdered his worker whom he loved and used to help with finances.
Mukata said he used to pay rentals for the deceased as his company, Men in Black Security company never paid him well.
Mukata said Namakambwa even applied for early retirement so he could employ him permanently and that he cleared the servant’s quarter so that he could shift.