The two men who are suspected of kidnapping 13 young ladies in October of last year have been taken to a hospital where doctors will check on their physical and mental health before they go on trial.
This came about when their attorney, Osbourne Ngoma, requested that the accused, Mathews Sikaonga and James Bwalya, undergo a medical evaluation to see whether they are capable of participating in and understanding the proceedings.
This morning, Mr. Ngoma also informed the court that Bwalya was also physically ill and in agony, which had an impact on his mental capabilities.
“After an interaction with accused number one, it revealed that he was involved in an activity that led him to falling down and sustaining backache injuries which left him with excruciating pain,” the lawyer submitted.
The prosecution team did not object to the motion but emphasized that because the case involves gender-based violence and should be given priority, the medical examination report must be submitted to the court by April 6 of this year.
Assuring that the case is heard on time will provide fairness for both the victims and the accused, according to deputy state advocate Chali Hambayi.
Judge Charles Kafunda of the Lusaka High Court ruled that the accused must receive a medical test to determine their ability to stand trial, and a report from that examination must be delivered in court on Thursday because the current court session will end in three weeks.
“The examination period for the accused cannot be left open ended because this session is gazetted for three weeks,” he said.
The court instructed the permanent secretary of the Zambian Ministry of Health and the commissioner general of the Zambian Correctional Service to speed up the process so that the accused may receive prompt medical attention at the hospital.
The case was postponed until April 6 of this year so that the suspects’ mental and physical examination reports could be presented. One of the suspects entered the courtroom with a limp.
The accused were detained last October for allegedly kidnapping the victims, who are accused of 54 crimes of kidnapping, rape, assault, interdiction of human trafficking, and aggravated robbery.
The alleged offenses occurred in January through October of last year.