CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka
AFTER police shot dead dangerous gangster Lion of Miseshi in Twibukishe township minutes after his escape from a Kitwe Central police station cell, his gang scattered.
Lion used to live in Miseshi near Mindolo, but members of his murderous gang were from Buchi, St Anthony, Chachacha and Kandabwe.
After some time they teamed up with another gang based in St Anthony, which was led by Lovemore Mumba, known as Shashasha Shiwili.
Like Lion, Shiwili was a huge, tall muscular fellow who commanded unquestionable loyalty among his minions.
He was a miner at Mindola Shaft and a gang leader at the same time.
His ruthlessness and unbelievable cruelty helped him command unflinching loyalty of the gang, which also specialised in raiding the Zambia Railways Limited goods shed and the industrial area.
Some of the members of the gang were Bwalya Ngungayi, Chisosolo Bwalya, Chibwe Ndete, Sikumbuzo, Joshua Legendary, Wesley Munduzu and Mustafa Kalizamani.
But besides raiding the goods shed and industries, the gang also started staging armed robberies, shooting and robbing motorists and attacking homes.
After every successful job, they would buy expensive clothes and drink lagers while moving around in hired taxis to compete with Kagem Boys or Ba Kajamu.
The showy gangsters would hire up to four taxis for a whole week, which would be taking them from one drinking place to another, and from one Copperbelt town to another.
In lean times they would break into grocery stores in Mindolo such as Mwaingileni and in Twibukishe.
The bandits would even break into taverns to steal C.hibuku beer.
They were behind a number of murders along the railway tracks between St Anthony and Twibukishe, and between Twibukishe and Kandabwe.
They would lie in ambush for people moving between the two residential areas, and those coming from KMB bus station in the evenings.
If the victim recognised any of the gangsters, they would kill him or her for fear of being exposed.
After a big haul they would gather in St Anthony at Shashasha Shiwili’s house, in a jovial mood, drinking crates upon crates of lager to wash away the opaque Chibuku they had been imbibing during the dry days.
They would hire open vans and transport the contraband to other towns from where it would be sold, either within Zambia or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
By the time the police would raid their houses in St Anthony, Chachacha, Twibukushe and Kandabwe, they would not find any contraband.
The gangsters were so shameless that they even robbed neighbours.
In one such armed robbery, a miner who lived in Nyimba Street in Chachacha, just across St Anthony, had been out of the country for some years under ZCCM sponsorship.
On his return, he came with a powerful music system.
In those days owning a good music system was a status symbol, and the man did not hide his pride at being the owner of one such gadget.
He would be playing the deep-bass system, especially in the evenings, and children would descend on his home to dance to the rich music while envious adults watched from a distance.
One day the family was playing the music system around 20:00 hours when Sikumbuzo, who was actually his neighbour a few houses away on the same street, Chibwe Ndete, Bwayla Ngungayi and others stormed the house and opened fire, indiscriminately spraying the house with bullets.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the bandits made away with the music system.
The family was shocked because Sikumbuzo was in fact one of those firing AK 47 assault rifles.
A few days later, the police anti-robbery squad cornered three members of the gang at the Zambia Railways Limited goods shed around 10:00 hours and shot dead one of them.
Police officers forced Bwalya Ngungayi to carry the blood-dripping corpse of his fallen brother-in-crime to Mukuba Secondary School, where they had parked their open Toyota Hilux twin-cab van.
However, they released him a few days later. But after the gang murdered a security guard in the industrial area and snatched a motor vehicle on Kitwe-Chingola road at gunpoint, police cornered Ngungayi and shot him dead.
Other members of the gang fled into the bush behind Mindolo North Shaft.
The gang would come out of hiding and stage an armed robbery or raid a business place.
One day Chibwe Ndete mounted a lone illegal roadblock on the Kitwe-Chingola highway near Chingola road cemetery while armed with a pistol.
After firing at several motor vehicles he shot and seriously wounded a white man driving from Kitwe towards Sabina in an attempt to snatch his vehicle.
By the time the anti-robbery squad arrived at the scene, he had fled back into the bush behind Mindolo North Shaft.
However, he was later cornered and gunned down.
The anti-robbery squad managed to wipe out the rest of the gang.
Shashasha Shiwili stopped work at ZCCM Nkana Division Mindolo Shaft and started working for the now defunct United Taxis and Transport Association (UTTA) under businessman Willie Nsanda, and lawyer, businessman and football administrator Kephas Katongo.
He became addicted to narcotic drugs. While on an official trip in Lusaka, he allegedly died of drug-related complications.
Another notorious thug who had no scruples about committing murder was Tony Tiger.
He was the unchallenged ruler of the Uchi slug dam, also called ku Malabo.
Tony Tiger was suspected to be behind the deaths of a number of people whose bodies were found around the area.
He was later arrested, charged with murder and tried by the High Court, which found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
There also emerged sophisticated gangs in Bulangililo, which used to move with bunches of keys.
They used to stage ‘clean’ jobs, breaking into business buildings and storerooms at companies using the keys.
The sly thieves would leave no trace of their entry and exit.
It took a lot of undercover work for the police to finally corner their leader, who was charged with multiple counts of breaking into a building and theft.
He was convicted and sentenced to nine years imprisonment with hard labour for each count by the Kitwe Magistrates Court.
However, since the terms would run concurrently, he was to serve only nine year.
CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka