By VIOLET TEMBO

KEY witness for the defence Rapheal Tafuna Sikazwe has denied hacking to death the late senior chief Tafuna of the Lungu people in Mpulungu district.

Appearing for defence before Ndola High court judge Yvonne Chembe, Sikazwe claimed that witnesses that identified him and led testimony against him in the court had a grudge against him

Sikazwe and seven other accused persons stand charged with two counts of murder contrary to section 200 of the penal code CAP87 of the laws of Zambia and one count of attempted murder contrary to section 215 of the same code.

It is alleged that on June 2, 2016 at Mupulungu, the accused persons jointly and whilst acting together with others unknown did murder Benson Mukupa Kaoma and Raibos Chifunda.

It is further alleged that on the same date the accused persons attempted to murder Peter Sinyangwe.

Sikazwe, 62, told the court that he had been nominated by the Lungu Royal Establishment (LRE) committee in 2013 to act as chief Tafuna after the demise of the chief who previously occupied the throne.

Sikazwe told the court that on the material date the chief was murdered, he was home and only heard the gunshots in the night.

He said he ran to a nearby church where he sought refuge and after two hours he left to secure chieftaincy charms.

“On the material day that Benson Mukupa and Raibos Chifunda were murdered I was home the whole day. It was at night that I heard gun shots and I left home and hid in the church leaving my two children in the house. I was scared for my life.

“The whole matter has been cooked up by Cosmas Chileshe because he also wanted to become the new senior chief Tafuna and he refused to release the instruments of power. All the witnesses are my relatives and to say they saw me hack Benson to death is a lie,” he said.

Mr. Sikazwe said the witnesses which included the wife to the deceased Raibos Chifunda who identified him in court to having participated in the killing of the deceased were liars and their testimonies were imaginary.

He testified that the late Chief Tafuna was his cousin claiming he was not aware of the degazzeting of Kaoma as new senior chief Tafuna.

Another accused person village headman Clement Yamba Yamba, 37, told the court that late in the afternoon on June 2 2016, he witnessed police officers firing teargas canisters to disperse villagers who were throwing stones.

Mr. Yamba Yamba said he never paId much attention to the incidence and opted to go to the fields to harvest.

He said upon his return home, police officers visited him and picked him up.

He said when he questioned the officers as to why he was being picked up, they slapped him and accused him of killing the chief.

Yamba Yamba said he only learnt of the death of Benson Mukepa Kaoma after he was charged and detained in Kasama.

He also accused the witnesses that testified against him of hatred and having a grudge against him.

He said the first accused person, Rapheal Sikazwe had support of the local chiefs in the 17 establishments in Lungu chiefdom.

Trial continues.

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