Teens aged 15 and 16 Acquitted
15 year old Prince* and his 16 year old neighbor, Jairos*, were in 9th grade when they were arrested and accused of a serious crime.
When their case began in the Lusaka Subordinate Court, UP Zambia stepped in to provide free legal representation. The teens were able to access bail and their families worked together with UP Zambia to put forward a solid defense.
The presiding juvenile court made every effort to have the case completed in an efficient manner and the case reached judgement stage within three months.
Last week the juvenile court found that the teens were innocent and that there was insufficient evidence linking them to the crime of which they were accused.
UP Zambia will continue to support the teens as they move forward with their lives and re-enroll in school.
*names have been changed to protect identities
MISSING ON 18TH BIRTHDAY
On the weekend of his 18th Birthday Kombe went missing from home, without a trace.
At his house, in a densely populated township in Kitwe, his grandmother was frantic and had reported Kombe as a missing person at two police stations when he didn’t return home from the city center, 6 kilometers away, where he worked for two different employers who had given him gardening jobs since he was 14 years old.
Unbeknownst to his grandmother, on the weekend four days earlier, one of Kombe’s employers had accused him of stealing a pair of shoes and taken him to the police where he was locked up. “On Saturday when I went to look for work one of my bosses said I had taken a pair of shoes from his house. He tied my hands with a rope behind my back, threw me into the back of his pick-up truck and drove me to the police station. I am not even the one who took the shoes,” Kombe explained with teary eyes while extending his bruised hands.
Through out the weekend while in detention, Kombe stayed hungry for the most part as his family was not aware that he had been arrested.
Kombe has never seen the inside of a classroom since he was born. His late mother, who made a living making and selling illicit beer in the city slums, could not afford to take him to school at a young age. When Kombe was 12 years old she died. His grandmother took him in to her house located in Kitwe, a city nearly 400 kilometers away from the Zambian capital where he had lived with his mother.
“Kombe has never gone to a school since he was born but he has never given me any trouble. He has never been in trouble with the police either but I blame his late mother who should have taken him to school when he was young. I can’t take him to school now I am old,” Kombe’s grandmother said.
While conducting a monitoring visit on the Copperbelt, UP Zambia found Kombe in detention. The team soon gained interest in his case and decided to pursue it. They contacted the station’s Criminal Investigations Officer who assisted them to locate the arresting officer. The arresting officer, a professional looking man, quickly arranged for Kombe to be released from detention as the complainants had not come back to continue with the case.
The UP Zambia team further decided to locate Kombe’s home to conduct an assessment of his living situation and re-unite him with his grandmother. The grandmother was in tears as she received Kombe back home after going missing for 4 days without a trace.
With your support UP Zambia can continue helping children like Kombe to gain their freedom and be re-united with their families.
UP Zambia is currently implementing a project on Pre-Trial Diversion to assist children like Kombe. The organization is working with the Zambia Police, Drug Enforcement Commission, National Prosecutions Authority and Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola with financial support from UNICEF.