JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
OF ALL the good things that happened in the past one year, 2016 will also be remembered for some horrible news and shocking events that gripped our nation.
From bizarre killings to crimes of passion to ritualistic killings, to politically-instigated crimes, 2016 was the year it all happened.
With over 400 killings reported from January to September, each month presented its own horror.
And the news pages were never devoid of murder stories, with a worrying trend of estranged wives killing their husbands.
But without doubt, the most shocking of all violent crimes in 2016 was the string of killings that happened in George township and its surrounding areas between April and May.
When the killings stopped, six males, aged between 19 and 40, had been killed. Their bodies were discovered with missing parts such as genitals, tongues and hearts.
The killings resulted into a humanitarian crisis as people looted shops belonging to foreigners, especially Rwandans and Congolese, whom they accused of involvement in the crimes.
Hundreds sought refuge at a Catholic church in Lusaka before being repatriated to a refugee camp.
Weeks after the killings had stopped, four men were arrested and charged with murder. They are currently on trial.
But it all started with the killing involving former Defence Minister George Mpomboâ€™s 17-year-old son, who shot his lover to death with a pistol in January, after he learnt that she was pregnant.
The account of the killing read like a plot from a horror movie.
During trial, a police witness said that they had exhumed a headless body of a 17-year-old teenager of Pamodzi township in Ndola. This girl was believed to have been pregnant by Mpomboâ€™s son.
When the girl told Mr Mpomboâ€™s son that she was pregnant for him, he got upset and grabbed a pistol from the house which he used to shoot her.
After killing her, he cut off her head, which he concealed in a plastic bag before dumping it in the bush, and then buried her body in Chiwala area in Masaiti.
The juvenile led police to the scenes of crime where both the head and body were found in a decomposed state
He was found guilty of the murder and ordered to be confined for at least 10 years, since he cannot be jailed on account of age.
Then there was Elizabeth Lungu, who allegedly stabbed her husband Anthony Nkoma to death in Lusakaâ€™s Mtendere in May, in an apparent crime of passion.
A number of the coupleâ€™s neighbours and friends talked of a troubled and violent relationship the couple had since they got married on July 27, 2013.
The 26-year-old Ms Lungu, who was arrested and charged with murder, is still standing trial.
And then there was Precious Longwe Litebele, a 30-year-old banker who allegedly shot her husband Lubinda Litebele dead after a domestic quarrel on African Freedom Day â€“ May 25.
Ms Longwe is still on trial for murder. She has denied the charge, saying she shot Mr Litebele by accident.
Ms Longwe allegedly shot her husband five times around 03:00 hours at their house in Woodlands.
Then on August 1, there was a horrific discovery at an unfinished house in Chalala area. Six bodies, including a decapitated body of an adult male were found in a decomposed state.
The dead were identified as Albert Mwanza, whose head was chopped off and smashed in a dish, and his three children; seven-year-old girl Martha, Leo, aged four, and Blessing, who was only nine months old.
Other victims were Brian Banda, who was aged 12, and Amos Banda.
A 10-year-old girl and a boy aged eight were found tied and in the same room where the bodies were found.
Three suspects, including Jenipher Mwanza, who is the wife of Albert Mwanza, were arrested.
And then three days after the August 11 general elections, the country witnessed scenes of violence, especially in Namwala, where hundreds of villagers perceived to be supporters of the Patriotic Front were attacked and had their houses burnt by suspected United Party for National Development supporters.
Although no lives were reportedly lost, the incident was a blot on the countryâ€™s record as a peaceful nation.
On October 28, Jacqueline Mwiindwa was arrested in Lusaka for allegedly killing her husband by running him over with her vehicle after a quarrel.
She was charged with murder and is standing trial.
In November, musician Frankiss was stabbed to death by his girlfriend after a dispute in Lusaka.
The 46-year-old Frankiss, whose real name was Francis Zimba, is said to have picked up a quarrel with Meya Namfukwe, 21, of Lusakaâ€™s Kanyama West township. She turned herself in after the killing.
On December 19, police arrested a 21-year-old man of Yenga village in Nchelenge for allegedly sexually abusing and murdering an 84-year-old woman of the same village.
Fred Mambwe allegedly killed the old woman by strangling her.
And on Christmas Day, a woman in Luanshya was detained for allegedly bludgeoning her 52-year-old â€˜boyfriendâ€™ to death with the help of her suspected new lover after the victim found the two together at her house.
Police named the dead man as Stephen Mulenga of house number 25/26, Mpatamatu, and the suspected killer as Bwalya Komakoma, 22, of 310/21 in the same township.
Komakoma had earlier been apprehended for unlawfully wounding Mr Mulenga, but after the victim died later in the day at Roan General Hospital, the offence changed to murder.
According to statistics by police, in 2010, there were 812 reported murder cases, while 863 killings were reported in 2011.
The year 2012 recorded the highest number of killings with 885 cases reported. In 2013, a total of 867 killings were recorded, while in 2014, a total of 825 were reported.
In 2015, a total of 853 cases were reported.
Police are still compiling figures for 2016, but by September, 456 cases were reported.
The final tally may still be within the 800 mark, but it is the gravity of killings in 2016 that tips the scales.
A total of 3,343 people have been arrested over the killings during the seven-year period, 203 of those were arrested this year.
One can only hope that 2017 will see less killings.
JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka