ACTIVIST Sikaile Sikaile says Vespers’ life is more than the K500,000 compensation provided by the government.
“The pain inside our hearts will continue as long as there is no justice in the brutal death of Vespers and many others,” Sikaile said. “It is now clear that there will be no justice for similar victims under your [President Edgar Lungu’s] government unless if they are affiliated to your government.”
The state has committed to paying the family of late UNZA student Vespers Shimunzhila K500,000 with interest at the rate of six per cent per annum as compensation. This follows a consent judgment entered into between Shimunzhila’s father Davison and the State.
This is in a matter where Shimunzhila sued the state demanding damages for loss of expectation of life for his daughter to be assessed by the court.
Shimunzhila, who vowed to further seek justice for his daughter’s death after the Coroner established that the cause of death for Vespers was asphyxia due to smoke but no police officer present could be held liable, sought damages for pain and suffering, to be assessed by the court.
Citing the Attorney General in the matter, he wanted damages for loss of future prospective earnings, punitive damages to be assessed by the court and any other relief that the court may deem necessary and costs.
In his statement of claim, Shimunzhila who is the administrator of the estate of his late daughter lamented that the actions of the police were reckless and negligent and were in complete disregard for human decency, human life and respect for the law.
Shimunzhila contended that Vespers was deprived an opportunity to live a full life and that she suffered pain as a result of the suffocation which was caused by teargas and smoke which resulted from the reckless and negligent actions of the Zambia Police Service.
He said on October 4, 2018 there was commotion at the University of Zambia Great East Road campus where students were protesting against the delayed payment of meal allowances.
Shimunzhila stated that unidentified police officers entered the premises of university and fired teargas canisters into the student hostels which caused a mattress to catch fire and the smoke combined with the noxious gases from the canisters making it difficult to breathe.
He recalled that Vespers, who was in her room whilst other students protested, was declared dead on October 5, 2018 and the cause of death was owing to asphyxia caused by carbon monoxide inhalation due to fire.
In an open verdict delivered in October 2019, Coroner Silvia Munyinya said the fire which gutted the hostel housing Shimunzhila’s room was ignited by teargas, which was fired into the rooms by the police officers who went to UNZA to maintain calm when the students rioted as they were the only ones who were armed.
However, Coroner Munyinya said though the officers were behind the incident, it was so difficult to establish the culprit.
But Sikaile said no amount of money would bring justice to Vespers’ family.
“Mr President, I just have a few questions for you concerning the offer your government has placed for the exhausted, traumatised, depressed and powerless Shimunzhila’s family in their quest to seek justice for their beloved child Vespers,” he said, in a statement yesterday. “First and foremost, let me state that my heart bleeds when I see money being offered instead of justice in any case that involves the loss of human life. To be honest with you Sir, this money pains to talk about. Vespers life is more than money. And I am pretty sure even the family have accepted this hard gift from a humble you not that they want to benefit but to settle legal expenses they have accumulated in fighting for justice which you have denied them as a President of Zambia. The pain inside our hearts will continue as long as there is no justice in the brutal death of Vespers and many others.”
Sikaile wondered whether the only solution the “mighty PF government could offer in Vespers death is to pay K500,000?”
“Don’t you think justice would have been more healing not only to the Shimunzhila family but to every Zambian?” asked Sikaile. “…In addition, may you pay all retirees who have saved this country their dues before they die as well. Since you have proven to the world that you cannot afford to give justice to the need but pay money.”