Vespers Shimuzhila’s death is cold blooded murder by a blood thirsty regime
By Prof. Micheo Hansungule
The tear gassing to death of final year University of Zambia student Vespers Shimuzhila fits in very well in the trajectory of pathological power by a bloody thirst regime. This government has been on a path to brutally put down perceived opponents the latest incident continues the narrative it has established that when it comes to keeping power it will do so regardless.
Despite noises by president Lungu that the murder would be investigated, fact that will not go away is Vespers was deliberately murdered by president Edgar Lungu’s regime. Isn’t it something that smacks of extreme hypocrisy for president Lungu to apparently direct that police investigates the murder yet the murderer is police? How do police investigate their own especially those senior officers that issued the fatal orders?
In more serious jurisdictions, police actions against citizens are subject of independent inquiry not investigation by the same police involved in the crimes. In South Africa, such incidents would be investigated by Police Independent Complaints Unit, a statutory body established by law totally independent of police.
Sometimes, this is complimented by presidential commission of inquiry which is entitled to undertake the investigation publicly and which is empowered to summon anyone including police seniors, those who issued commands and members of the executive with power over police. But of course this can’t happen in Zambia under president Edgar Lungu where it is a government policy to kill or punish perceived opponents.
Those who tear gassed Vespurs’ room as well as those who instructed this dastardly act on an innocent young lady knew very well the effect of spraying tear gas in a room let alone a small room like University of Zambia rooms. They knew and foresaw that spraying tear gas in someone’s room could kill that person but still did it anyway to fulfill illegal orders. The sprayer and the one (s) who ordered would of course not allow their rooms or those of their children and their loved ones to be tear gassed for whatever reason, would they?
Tear gas is a chemical weapon. Chemical weapons are deadly hence the international community through the United Nations has spent a lot of effort to design highly complicated architecture of international law to ban the use of these weapons. Tear gas irritates eyes, lungs, nose, mouth, causes crying, sneezing, coughing, difficulties in breathing, irritation, bleeding, pain in eyes and temporary blindness.
In societies with uncivilized regimes like Zambia, tear gas is used to punish or even kill citizens as part of pathological state power. Just the idea that we can kill opponents using state power thrills them. Citizens who are simply exercising their fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution nevertheless are ruthlessly visited with disproportionate force as in the case of Vespers,with the sole aim to kill.
MMD president Dr. Nevers Mumba and his colleagues were victim of tear gas. So was UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his family. Hichilema and his family were sprayed with tear gas right in his house by blood thirst police and ruling PF party cadres.
Because of its deadly effect on human beings, tear gas has been abolished in war. International law forbids use of tear gas in warfare. Consequently, various international instruments among them the Geneva Protocols of 1925 as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 explicitly proscribe use of tear gas during warfare.
However, police in most jurisdictions are authorized to use tear gas but only in severely restricted circumstances. In particular, police may use tear gas during their drills and then only when covered with gas masks, why with gas masks? Because it’s deadly. Similarly, some jurisdictions use tear gas but only for riot control.
As recalled, civilised countries use tear gas for crowd control. However, law requires that in such events, police must give prior warning in order to give affected an opportunity or means to comply with police orders to leave the area before tear gas is sprayed. Police were not controlling any crowd in the rooms they were spraying with tear gas which unfortunately claimed the innocent life of Vespers.
Police knowingly used tear gas and other chemical agents against Vespers and other students in order to punish not to disperse them. This was deliberately and willfully designed to inflict maximum pain and anguish as an end in itself rather than accomplishing any legitimate law enforcement objective.
When Vespers and other students took shelter to their rooms, they did so in the belief to seek safetyin the confines of their rooms which is quite reasonable. But police, while fully knowing the students had no means of escaping from their rooms because police had surrounded, boxed and then savagely started to spray them with tear gas.
No doubt this attack targeted the young lady and her colleagues. I hold President Edgar Lungupersonally responsible for this. If he is not, I challenge him to resign to protest his innocence. You can’t kill an innocent human being in cold blood as they did Vespers. In saying this, I am sure I am with God who owns life. Anyway, they can kill as they like because in any case they too will die, and die soon. God will kill them.