CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka
KITWE has never been short of criminal gangs.One such gang was led by Rodwell, also known as Shi Nsizo around 2002. It was a gang of ruthless, bloodthirsty criminals who deserved the fate that ultimately visited them.
Its members included Rodwell’s brother, Kasalanga, Joe and suspected Congolese illegal immigrants.
They committed many violent crimes and stole a lot of property from both houses and commercial premises.
In one such incident, the gangsters broke into a home of a white couple in Riverside residential area in the middle of the night.
They switched on an electric cooker and later forced the white man to sit on the hot plates, burning the skin of his buttocks as if they were branding a cow.
Besides torturing the innocent man, they robbed the couple of cash in Zambian Kwacha and United States Dollars.
The gang staged a spate of other robberies leaving victims either dead or with serious injuries, and traumatised.
As expected, the police anti-robbery squad was hot on their heels.
The gang fled to Lusaka and remained in hiding there for some weeks after learning that the crack unit was looking for them.
When they felt it was safe, they quietly returned to Kitwe, but residents quickly tipped the police about their presence.
Informants led police to a cabin in Chamboli township where the gangsters were hiding near Chamboli Primary School.
Rodwell sneaked out before the police arrived.
Part of the highly tactical anti-robbery squad surrounded the whole homestead undetected while the rest hid in a Supreme Furnishers delivery van covered with a tent as if the vehicle was delivering furniture.
Rodwell melted into the bush behind Chamboli Primary School as police closed in on his gang.
Shortly, they sealed off that escape route as well, effectively blocking any exit.
When the malcontents realised what was happening, they escaped through the roof of the cabin, but Joe and a suspected Congolese gang member were not as lucky.
Their attempt to escape was stopped by police bullets, which killed them instantly.
Eglem, Kasalanga and Rodwell survived the police raid. But police were not done yet.
They hunted Eglem down and shot him dead while Kasalanga escaped with a bullet lodged in his arm.
He was reported to have fled to Kakolo farm block and has not been seen or heard of to date.
Rodwell was reported to have fled to Kabwe where he formed a new gang and resumed staging armed robberies and murders.
The Kitwe anti-robbery squad followed him, finally caught up with him and shot him dead in a shootout.
Police later informed his mother to go and collect his bullet-riddled body in Kabwe General Hospital mortuary.
Lion of Miseshi
In Miseshi, near Mindolo, a light-complexioned, muscular handsome man in his 20s assembled a gang that was to rock the city with murders and robberies.
Their favourite target was the Zambia Railways Limited goods shed in Saint Anthony, where they would steal cargo such as diesel, sugar, salt, flour, blankets and copper from stationary wagons.
They also raided industrial yards between Miseshi and Buchi, where they also murdered a number of security guards.
The thugs moved in large numbers, up to 20, during a single raid and once they got hold of a security guard, they never took prisoners.
They would murder the guard in cold blood.
On many occasions Lion was cornered by police and detained, but he somehow managed to escape from cells.
But one day, he was apprehended and detained at Kitwe Central Police Station after his gang staged a robbery and murdered a security guard in the industrial area.
Around 08:00 hours, the next day, he overpowered a lone police officer and escaped, after freeing other detainees.
As he walked majestically towards Twibukishe township, he was confronted by mobile police officers from Kamfinsa, who had been guarding wagons at the nearby rail track shunting point.
Instead of surrendering he just continued walking with his hands in his pockets, contemptuously ignoring orders to halt and warning shots.
It was a foolish exhibition of bravado after allegedly being misled by a witch doctor that he was undefeatable and immune to bullets.
An officer lying behind the rail track fired four times from his green G3 service semi-automatic rifle at a range of less than 50 metres.
The bullets slammed into Lion’s chest sending him reeling backwards. The officer fired a staccato again as the pompous Lion crashed to the ground.
He died right there.
The news of his death attracted a huge crowd with people openly rejoicing.
Many people who lived in Kitwe in 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s feel that Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja should seek help from the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up an anti-robbery training unit at Lilayi Police College.
Instructors from Mushili 1 Commando Unit should be part of the training staff.
“The unit could also serve as an advisory body on how to handle gang crime,” said one resident.
“In fact, they should look for Mr Musumali, Mr Sakatu and a Mr Kolala, whom I am told now works in Chililabombwe, and contract them as consultants.”
The residents said the three men and a few others transformed the anti-robbery squad in Kitwe into the most effective police unit, which was dreaded by gangsters.
“Those guys were professionals. They are among the best police officers we have produced as a country, but we are not utilising their vast knowledge and skills in fighting violent and organised crime,” resident said in an interview in Kitwe recently.
Read more in the next article on Monday.
CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka