NGOCC Press Statement on State’s Compensation of Vespers Shimunzhila’s Family
Friday 8th May 2020
By Engwase Banda Mwale
THE Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has noted the compensation by the State, of Kwacha five Hundred Thousand (K500,000.00) as settlement to the Shimunzhila family for causing the death of the University of Zambia (UNZA) student Ms Vespers Shimunzhila.
According to an inquest conducted to establish the cause of death in 2018 for the then fourth year UNZA student, Vespers, the Coroner found that she died of asphyxia.
The Coroner established that the asphyxia was as a result of the tear gas smoke fired by the Zambia Police into her room. The Inquest further established that the actions of the State were reckless or negligent and were in complete disregard for human decency, human life and respect for law.
While the State is taking steps to remedy the situation and whilst we are cognizant of the fact that no amount of compensation can ever atone for the death of any individual, the K500,000.00 compensation is inadequate.
This is especially given that the Shimunzhila family had requested for a much higher compensation which would have gone to mitigate all losses occasioned by the death of Vespers.
Understandably the family has agreed to this compensation simply because pursuing it further would entail much more trauma that they have been subjected to over the last two and half years.
We wish, therefore, to earnestly appeal to the authorities that the payment of this meagre compensation will be done quickly so as to help the family put this matter to rest.
It is also very unfortunate that none of the Police Officers involved in the operation that led to the death of a promising young woman with potential to contribute to national development, has been brought to book.
NGOCC has observed with great concern that Zambia Police has failed to take decisive action against those responsible for the death of Vespers.
Life is sacred, and therefore, anyone who causes the death of another should face the law. We therefore appeal to the Republican President, Mr. Edgar C. Lungu that something be done about the reckless and negligent way in which public servants carry out certain duties.
There is need for public servants to act responsibly and professionally. Already it is disheartening that we witnessed yet another loss of a young life, a Medical Laboratory Technologist, Mr. Ian Mutambo, who died last week in a fatal road traffic accident aboard public transport in Northwestern Province.
This was while the late was transporting samples of a suspected COVID-19 patient from Zambezi District Hospital.
Such negligence in our public service should urgently be addressed and save the many precious and promising lives of this great nation.
Engwase Banda Mwale