Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Several Criminal Gangs "Take Over" Zambia's Second Largest City

Police Anti-Robbery officers lead 90 Niggas Gang member 
Martin Nkonde (in black shirt) to prison after being sentenced to five
years in jail for assault -Picture by Matthews Kabamba

By Paul Shalala

About seven teenage gangs have “over run’ Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city, literally “taking over” several residential areas and brutalizing residents especially at night.

According to Wikipedia, Kitwe, which is a mining town in Zambia's mineral-rich Copperbelt Province, has the second largest population after Lusaka.

Several criminal gangs, which are composed of dozens of members, ambush and beat up Kitwe residents at night and grab whatever is found on them.

Police officers have been battling these gangs without much success.

In the past one year, over 200 gang members, mostly teenagers, have been arrested but this has not stopped the gangs from attracting more members.

These gang members have been taken to court and so far, only four convictions have been secured.

In some cases, complainants have abandoned the court process and suspects end up being released by the courts.

But which are these gangs?

Who leads them and where do they operate from? These are the questions this article seeks to answer.

This blogger has reported extensively on these gangs since 2015 and in this article, he shares what he has gathered so far.

Motivation

Like many other mining towns, Kitwe has a large population of miners both working within town and in nearby mining towns.

However, there are of course some youths who are not employed.

One school of thought believes that some of the gang members are unemployed youths who want to earn a living by stealing from their victims.

This could be true on the part of The Hundreds Gang whose members are above 18 years, these could be school leavers.

But it may not be true with Tokota Boys, 90 Niggas and Sons Of the Devil Gangs who have members as young as 15 years, school age boys who have nothing to do with employment.

These are boys who are in Grades seven to nine who are perhaps joining the gangs for prestige purposes.

The other school of thought thinks these are just criminal elements who are trying to earn a mark in society as "real men."

They could be trying to copy what "Jerabos" did in the past years.

Jerabos were illegal miners and shrewd businessmen who wrecked havoc on the Copperbelt and were untouchable by the Police.

People on the Copperbelt are of the view that the "success" of the Jerabos could be the motivating factor behind the mushrooming of gangs in Kitwe.

On the Copperbelt where money is hard to go buy as compared to Lusaka, being "Umupondo" (a thug) is considered the normal thing to do.

They call it hustling and these boys think being a thug, brutalising and stealing from people is normal. 

But another view is that recreational centers are slowly diminishing in various residential areas in Kitwe.

Where play parks used to be, today you will find houses, bars or car parks some of which were "legally" sanctioned by the Kitwe City Council. 

These are places where children in the past years spent their free time playing, but today these places are out of bounds to children.

These kids have nowhere to spend their free time from.

This is what some people think is the reason behind the spread of these gangs.

Sons Of the Devil 

The latest wave of teenage gangs in Kitwe can be traced back to 2015 when the Sons Of the Devil (SOD) gang started beating people in Bulangililo, Kamitondo and Kapoto areas.

In that year, over a dozen of SOD members were arrested and tried in court.

But because most of them were Primary and Junior Secondary School pupils, they were convicted and given suspended sentences.

Two years later, this criminal gang is back.

A number of its members have been nabbed and they are appearing before various courts on various charges.

Some of its senior leaders are being tried in the Kitwe High Court.

Radio Icengelo Senior Presenter Kunda Kunda, who has over the years reported extensively on criminal gangs, fail victim to the SOD gang when six of them beat him up last year.

Mr Kunda spent three months in hospital, recovering from the attack.

“I was walking with my wife and daughter from a funeral when I was attacked in November last year. Six SOD members attacked me, they beat me and left me for dead. Lucky enough I survived and in hospital, I had 12 stitches on my head,” said Mr Kunda as he showed this blogger the scars on his skull.

Despite what he went through, Mr Kunda still hosts live phone-in programs to discuss criminal gangs.

Tokota Boys 

The Tokota Boys gang is the most brutal, popular and most feared of them all.

The gang operates from Ndeke, Mulenga and other surrounding areas and sometimes straying into other gang members' “territory.”

Mayweather's profile on Facebook
Residents of Kitwe West, particularly in Kamakonde, have also reported that Tokota members occasionally harass workers at the health center to demand for condoms.

"We now knock off early from work for fear of these Tokota Boys and SOD who harass us for condoms, its too much," said one health worker.

And in Kalulushi, graffiti can be seen on walls where words like “Team Tokota” or “Tok Tok” have been written to confirm the presence of these boys.

The Tokota Boys has over a hundred members and seems well organized than others.

Its strength was confirmed on New Year’s Eve last year at the Mukuba Mall when its members clobbered SOD Gang members during the New Year countdown.

Bottles flew all over and patrons scampered in all directions as the two notorious gangs clashed.

Three weeks ago, a video showing the Tokota Boys brutally assaulting a 16 year old boy of Mulenga Compound went viral on social media.

The four minutes and 30 seconds video showed a helpless boy being beaten with a huge stick, stones and slaps.

A teenager wearing a head sock repeatedly beat and stoned the boy and later undressed him.

In the video, the helpless boy was seen defecating and later eating his own faeces.
 
As all this was happening, over 10 other Tokota Boys were watching and laughing at the torture.

As this was going on, Tokota Boys members kept singing “Walitwishiba Ifwe……. Tuli ba Tokota…….”

It was later learnt this song was done by a Kitwe-based rap group called 408 Empire whose music video for the song “Walitwishiba Ifwe” was released recently and uploaded on YouTube in March 2018. 

The song is now said to be the "anthem" for the gang.
Members of the 408 Empire music group

Interestingly, a number of Tokota Boys were featured in this music video and names of their “Commanders” like English Tolo (Wisdom Chilekwa) and their overall leader Nigga Lu (Boniface Lubansa) are all mentioned in the music video.

Some of these Tokota Boys “Commanders” have since been arrested by Police.

They are part of 20 suspected Tokota Boys rounded up over the past 10 days in an effort to stop the criminal gangs from getting out of hand.

19 of the suspects appeared at the Kitwe Magistrates' Court on 16 May, charged with grivious harm, abduction or kidnapping and unlawful wounding and poisoning.

Appearing before Kitwe Chief Resident Magistrate Yvonne Nalomba, the 19 identified themselves as pupils, shopkeepers and businessmen of Kitwe, Mufulira and Ndola.

Their ages ranged from 13 to 34 but most of them are 20 year olds. 

The three cases they are facing are only triable in the High Court and the Tokota Boys have been remanded at the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility (Prison) as they wait for the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue instructions to commit them to the Kitwe High Court.


The youngest of the Tokota Boys (whose names cant be revealed for ethical reasons), faces a separate charge of assaulting someone.

After appearing for the three charges he is jointly charged with 18 other Tokota Boys, the teenager remained alone to take plea for the assault case in which he pleaded not guilty.

The case was adjourned to a later date for trial.

Meanwhile, Police have instituted investigations into the "Walitwishiba Ifwe" music video especially that its lyrics supported the Tokota Boys and described some of their criminal acts.
Mayweather wearing a shirt 
written "Team Tokota"

“This music video borders on national security and 408 Empire is inciting the public to commit crimes. How do musicians sing how Tokota Boys cut off people’s heads in Chimwemwe, that’s criminal,” said Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga in an interview.

But one prominent Tokota Boy who was seen assaulting the teenager in the video is still at large.

Copperbelt Police Chief Charity Katanga says Mwamba Siame, who is popularly known in the gang as "Mayweather," has evaded capture by the Police for close to three weeks now.

In a Facebook posting a few days ago from his hiding place, Mayweather apologized to his mother for his “sin.”

However, his apology did not go well with his friends who insulted and described him as a coward.

There has been speculation that the leadership of the Tokota Boys had changed hands from Nigga Lu to Mayweather.

With the incarceration of Nigga Lu, it is not clear if Mayweather still calls the shorts in the gang from his hiding place.

In the past three weeks, Police officers have raided various places to "smoke out" the young man but those efforts have proved fruitless.

In one raid on a house in Kwacha Township, Police officers from Riverside Police Station ended up finding 50 rolls of cannabis in a suspected hiding place for Mayweather and picked up 28 year old Bright Tom Kafula who is popularly known as Kamasu.
Mayweather's apology to his mum on Facebook

Police suspect Kamasu to be a close friend of Mayweather who also supplies drugs to all criminal gangs in Kitwe.

He has been charged with trafficking in psychotropic substances and is expected to appear in court this week.

When this blogger used all efforts to enter the "not-so-safe" Mulenga Compound to locate the 16 year old victim of the Tokota Boys, the teenager called for justice in his case.

“Those people aimed at killing me. They did all that because they wanted to kill me. It is just by the will of God that am alive today,” said the boy who is a Grade nine pupil.

When asked whether the Tokota Boys beat him because he belongs to a rival group called The Hundreds or Ba Zale, the teenager refused saying he was beaten for demanding to be paid his salary for the piece work he does in Chamboli Compound where he molds bricks.

But in the video, one of the Tokota Boys was heard describing the teenager as a spy who killed people and deserves to go to jail.

As "Mayweather" continued beating the teenager in the video, he kept asking him if he belongs to Ba Zale.

On Facebook, most members of the Tokota Boys Gang have adopted the word "Tokota" at the end of their names to show their membership.

Under cover investigations in Ndeke compound have revealed that pupils in this area are now moving with bags on their back throughout the day to avoid being beaten by the gang.

Parents have revealed that Tokota Boys members always move with bags on their back and any teenager walking the streets without a bag is seen as an enemy, a target for assault and possibly a member of a rival gang.

This has sent shivers in the community and children who are not even aligned to this gang are now moving with bags as a precaution for their own safety.

90 Niggas 

In Buchi and Bulangililo Compounds, another teenage gang has sprung up and it is called the 90 Niggas Gang.

This one is composed of mostly teenagers from the age of 13 and the oldest is 18 years old.

13 of these boys were rounded up last month and charged for idle and disorderly conduct.

Since last month, the 13 ‘Niggas” have been appearing before Kitwe Magistrate Leonard Tembo and the case has now reached trial stage.

When they appeared for plea, all the boys pleaded not guilty.

They immediately applied for bail because most of them are in Grades Seven and Nine and are expected to write examinations at the end of the year.

Magistrate Tembo granted them K5,000 bail with two working surities each.

In a separate case, three suspected members of the 90 Niggas Gang appeared before Magistrate Tembo on 18 May on two counts of assaulting a neighbourhood watch officer of Mulenga Compound.

The three, 23 year old Martin Nkonde, 24 year old Fred Chipaila and 27 year old Martin Kafula where jointly charged on two counts of assaulting Richard Chitembo.

Magistrate Tembo sentenced Mr Nkonde to five years imprisonment with hard labour after he pleaded guilty to the first count but pleaded not guilty to the second charge.

His co-accused Mr Chipaila and Mr Kafula pleaded not guilty to both counts of assault and their matter was adjourned to June 4th, 2018 for commencement of trial.

The Hundreds

Another gang which is gaining prominence is The Hundred which is commonly known as Ba Zale.

This one is said to be based in Chamboli, Luangwa and Wusakile areas of Kitwe where it “rules” the night.

Last week, the group released a video in which it was torturing an alleged member of the Tokota Boys gang in revenge against the assault on the 16 year old teenager of Mulenga Compound.

In the video, a middle aged man is seen crying as he holds his clothes in his hands.

Just like in the Tokota video, the Zale members also undressed their victim and forced him to insult Tokota “Commanders.”

Nine gang members took part in the assault and seven have since been arrested by Police for assault occasioning bodily harm.

On 18 May, one of those arrested Elijah Sikazwe appeared in court.

He pleaded guilty to one count of assault and he confessed having assaulted Richard Chitembo who he suspected of being a member of the rival Tokota Boys gang.

Magistrate Leonard Tembo sentenced him to five years with hard labour. 

During the proceedings, State Prosecutor Sarah Mvula told the court that upon his apprehension, Elijah told officers at Wusakile Police Station that he was indeed a member of The Hundreds gang.


On Saturday, seven more members of The Hundreds gang were arrested by Police and they appeared in court this morning.

Two of them pleaded guilty to assault and they will be sentenced tomorrow.

Other Gangs

Other gangs operating in Kitwe are Buchi Boys, Boko Haram and Mbwambwambwa which is based in Musonda Compound.

These are little known and their activities have not yet reached the ears of the law enforcement agencies.

Public Reaction

The reaction to the arrest of the gang members has been overwelming.

On 16th May when the Tokota Boys appeared at the Kitwe Magistrates' Court, thousands of Kitwe residents lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the boys who have been terrorising the town.

As the Police truck (popularly known as Kasalanga) carrying the suspects made its way through the Central Business District of Kitwe, people danced and sung songs of joy to see their tormentors being brought to justice.

"Fipayeni fye ifyo (Just kill them,)," shouted one of the residents as four Police pick-ups carrying heavily armed Police officers escorted the Tokota Boys to court.

Two days earlier, President Edgar Lungu had directed the Zambia Police Service to ensure that the gangs are crushed.

This presidential directive led to the creation of a Security Taskforce which has led to many arrests and subsequent prosecutions.

Macky 2, arguably Zambia's leading rapper, has reacted to the mushrooming of gangs in Kitwe. 

The rapper, whose real names are Mulaza Kaira, hails from the Copperbelt and knows what is happening.

Below is what he posted on his Facebook page:
Macky 2


"TOKOTA or DOKOTA?

There's something wrong with our society today and if we don't address this now we are heading into a very dangerous future.

Where's happened to the society that produced doctors? Who is to blame when society begins to produce TOKOTA boys and not DOKOTA boys to save lives?

It is easy to look at the TOKOTA boys with disdain but we should be brave enough to look at the community where these boys are coming from. 

Most of these boys are coming from broken homes and in most cases they grew up knowing hate and violence as a way to survive. 

These kids are coming from a society where education is never celebrated. 

A society where thuggery is the key to success. These boys are a fruits of a broken society.... 

Change Begins With Us."

Monday, 7 May 2018

Zambian Court Finds Suspected Gays With Case To Answer

James Mwape and Phillip Mubiana who were the first suspects
to be tried over homosexuality in Kapiri Mposhi in 2013.
By Paul Shalala in Kapiri Mposhi

A Magistrate's Court in the central Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi has found two men with a case to answer in a matter where they are accused of practicing homosexuality.

The small court room where the case was held this morning was fully packed with relatives and friends of the two men.

The two, 30 year old Steven Sambo and 38 years old Japhet Chataba have since been put on their defence pending judgement next month.

Passing ruling this morning, Kapiri Mposhi Magistrate Ackson Mumba said he found a prema facie case against the two in the matter which has so far taken eight months.

Magistrate Mumba said based on the evidence adduced by the Prosecution, he found the two with a case to answer.

Particulars of the offence are that Mr Chataba on 25 August 2017 had canal knowledge of Mr Sambo at Chanika Lodge in Kapiri Mposhi. 

The two were on the particular day arrested by Police officers at the lodge and later charged with performing unnatural acts contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code.

In his ruling, Magistrate Mumba said five prosecution witnesses explained how the two men booked a room at the lodge and later bought condoms at the bar before having sex.

During trial, the supervisor at the lodge testified in court that she saw through the window of the booked room how the two were having sex and Mr Sambo got tired and ran out of the room but was dragged back into the room by Mr Chataba.

The Prosecution produced a video and pictures showing Mr Chataba, who was wearing a pant, dragging Mr Sambo back into the room.

In the video, Mr Sambo was seen wearing a jean as he shouted for help from onlookers but was overpowered by Mr Chataba who closed the door, locking themselves inside.

However, Magistrate Mumba said even though the videos and pictures showed what transpired, they did not contain dates and times when the alleged acts where committed.


A medical doctor who examined the two accused persons found that the results from the tests were not consistent with the allegations laid against them.


The doctor however found that one of the suspects had a reduction in the size of his anus and recommended that the Police do investigate the matter further.

After the ruling, the accused persons through their lawyer Daniel Libati of Abha Patel and Associates of Ndola, informed the court that they will remain silent for the rest of the case.

Magistrate Mumba then set 21 June 2018 as the day he will deliver judgement in the matter.

Both the defence and the prosecution have indicated that they will file written submissions before judgement day.

Mr Sambo and Mr Chataba are on bail and will appear before the court on 4th June, 2018 for mention. 

This is the second court case involving alleged sexual acts between men in Kapiri Mposhi in the past five years.

In May 2013, Phillip Mubiana and James Mwape where arrested in Kapiri Mposhi on alleged homosexuality.

The two men where remanded in custody without bail for over eight months but where later acquitted in 2014.

The case had earlier raised international interests, leading to a number of western diplomats attending the court cases.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia, a country whose constitution describes it as a "Christian nation."

In this deeply conservative Southern African country, homosexuality carries a jail term of 15 years. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Zambians Optimistic Of Eradicating Malaria


By Paul Shalala in Kalulushi 

Most Zambians are optimistic of eradicating malaria soon, this is according to results of a poll whose results where recently released under a report titled Malaria Futures For Africa.

The report, which was commissioned by Novartis Social Business and released in the second week of April, reveals that Zambians are very optimistic of eradicating malaria.

68 malaria experts in 14 Sub Saharan countries, who included Ministers of Health, lawmakers, non governmental organisations and other stakeholders were interviewed in preparation of this report.

Malaria is one of the diseases which Zambia grapples with.

This is largely due to lack of access to insecticide treated mosquito nets which most people in rural areas cannot afford to buy.

Zambia is endowed with many rivers, lakes and swamps and these water bodies act as breeding grounds for malaria, a disease which is spread by mosquitoes.


The report, which was chaired by Dr Richard Kamwi and Professor Bob Snow, shows that Zambia is among many African countries where residents are optimistic that malaria will be eliminated.

The report also showed that respondents in Zambia are optimistic of the level of funding and domestic policy as well as the political support for the fight against malaria.

But in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, respondents were pessimistic about eradicating the disease.

At the regional level, the report stated that efforts being made were commendable.

"Regional cross border monitoring and outbreak collaborations seem to be working well in East and Southern Africa in controlling malaria and eventually eliminating it," reads the report in part.

Within Zambia, the malaria burden is huge.

The fight against malaria is mainly focused on the continuous use of insecticide treated nets.


The nets are a lifeline for many in the country.

However, some of these nets are abused by fishermen who use them to catch fish.

This trend has been going on for a long time.

When health authorities distribute the nets to fight malaria, fishermen take advantage of them for their fish business.

And during the Copperbelt Provincial commemoration of Malaria Day last week, health authorities revealed that over one million mosquito nets have so far been distributed in all 10 districts to fight the disease.

"In 2017, we distributed 1,600,000 insecticide treated nets across the Copperbelt. This is in an effort to fight malaria. This is an on-going exercise," said Acting Copperbelt Medical Director Dr. Justo Banda.

Dr Banda also disclosed that of all the 10 districts in the province, Kalulushi is the most hit with malaria.

"In 2017, Kalulushi was recording 530 cases of malaria per 1,000 population. This is higher than the provincial average," he added.

Kalulushi is a small mining town which has a number of watheatre bodies and vast forests, perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

In this district, authorities are distributing mosquito nets occasionally.

And during the Malaria Day commemorations at Kasamba Grounds, there was a near stampede when dozens of men and women queued to collect free nets which were being given out by officials from the Ministry of Health.

It had to take Police officers to control the crowd for people to collect the nets in an orderly way.

This just shows how desperate the situation is in fighting the disease in the area.

People have challenges in accessing the nets using their own money.

Globally, Malaria is expected to be eradicated by 2030 and in Zambia, the government plans to beat that target by eradicating the disease 10 years earlier.

This is why mosquito nets are being procured and distributed in their millions. 

Zambia belongs to a grouping of eight Southern African countries which are working together to eliminate malaria by 2030.

The grouping, which is called Elimination 8, aims to "Enable and accelerate zero transmission in the four front-line countries by 2020 and the second line countries by 2030 through the provision of a joint platform for collaboration and joint strategic programming."

The eight countries in this grouping are Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland.

Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland are classified as front-line countries while the rest are considered second-line countries in the fight against malaria.