A GROUP of Namibians from the Ohangwena region travelled to Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, yesterday to repatriate some of the seven bodies of suspected criminals who were shot dead by police in that country two weeks ago.
A Lusaka-based relative of one of the deceased reportedly visited the morgue and identified one of the men, according to group spokesperson Oom Kamati.
Although the families said they have identified the deceased, The Namibian newspaper cannot reveal their identities as the Zambian and Namibian authorities have not yet officially released their names, or confirmed them as Namibians.
Namibia Police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said although the Namibian Police heard the news, they were still waiting on the Zambian authorities to confirm whether the deceased are indeed Namibians.
Currently, the details of the incident are unclear and incomplete.
Last week, the Zambian online news outlet Zambia Reports stated that the police in Lusaka had gunned down seven suspected criminals thought to be foreign nationals, who are believed to have been aided by some Zambians.
The seven men were killed on 6 December, after the police allegedly received a tip-off from members of the public that they were about to stage a robbery.
It is unclear what kind of robbery they were going to stage.
Zambian police spokeswoman Esther Katongo was quoted as saying: “The criminals are suspected to be foreign nationals.”
Their bodies are reportedly in a mortuary at the University Teaching Hospital, awaiting identification and post-mortems.
Since the news of the shooting broke, several Namibians took to the Zambia Reports’ Facebook page, requesting for images of the deceased.
Kamati told The Namibian yesterday that the Namibian High Commission in Zambia had expressed willingness to assist with the repatriation process, but the families have to do the paperwork.
“We haven’t received clear instructions from the high commission regarding the information we need to provide. The people who went to Zambia only went because the high commission is slow in their response.
“The people [family] are on their way to Zambia because there is a rumour circulating that only the identified bodies will be repatriated, and the rest will be cremated,” said Kamati.
“We don’t know how the law works in that country because they only released the names of five people. We don’t know what will happen to the other two bodies,” he added.
The families further expressed disappointment that the Zambian authorities could not provide the names of all the deceased. “They [Zambians authorities] are telling us that they found passports on the people, but they are not saying from which countries they come. We don’t know what they are hiding,” he said.
Kamati confirmed that they have so far received five names of the deceased persons, and are still waiting for the names of the other two men.
The families have obtained quotations from car hire companies as well as airlines in preparation for the repatriation of their loved ones. The second group of Namibians are expected to travel to Zambia soon.
The Zambian media has reported that the police who carried out the operation recovered four firearms, among them three pistols and one revolver with rounds of ammunition.
They also recovered a silver motor-vehicle, a Toyota Ipsum, which the alleged criminals were using, two registration number plates AAJ 4317 and ABM 9712, two masks, 22 assorted cellphones and assorted foreign currency, among them Chinese, Indian, Zimbabwean, Malawian and Singaporean currencies.