Zambia: The smell of death and suspicion

When the debris had settled at the offices next door to Mango House, destroyed by SA Defence Force raiders at the weekend, foreign journalists found a pile of African National Congress pamphlets — on top of the rubble. With the brochures was a green, black and gold sticker, perfectly clean.

It was clear to Milimo Punabantu, the Zambian Minister of Information, how the “evidence” had got there. “South Africa is good at planting materials,” he said. “The pamphlets were on top of the debris. They must have been dumped after the demolition of the building.”

Mango House and its adjacent office was the second stop for SADF commandos who undertook a “reconnaisance raid” into Livingstone, a tourist centre along the Zambezi River, 60km from Kazungula in the Caprivi strip and 500km south of Lusaka.

According to Punabantu, the raiders flew in by helicopter, probably from a base in Caprivi, to a site at the edge of town. Soon after 3am, witnesses saw them enter the centre of town on motorbikes.

The Mosi-o-Tanya (smoke that thunders), a seven-storey office block, houses offices of Zambia’s ruling United National Independence Party, an administration section of the Zambia National Provident Fund as well as offices and shops. It was the raiders’ first stop. Two security guards, Zambian nationals Mutemwa Muyeya and Isaac Chisamu, were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds. They had been armed with batons, whistles and plastic handcuffs.

A kilometre away is Damwa site-and-service township, where brothers Sidney, and David Mulobela — relatives of Prime Minister Kebby Musokotwane — were killed in Mango House in a hail of bullets an hour later. Hilda Pelekelo Kawina, niece of Zambian Defence Minister General Malimba Masheke, was seriously wounded. Adjacent to the house was a Unip office; it was destroyed, and ANC material found atop the rubble.

An ANC representative at the scene explained his organisation often exchanged pamphlets and publicity material with Unip offices. But he said, he could not understand why a package addressed to the ANC in Stockholm was also found at the site.

Zambian security forces are investigating reports that the raiders abandoned equipment at Simonga, a village 15km west of Livingstone. Meanwhile, Minister of Defence General Magnus Malan has defended the raid, challenging Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda to “come and discuss the matter.

The SADF statement said two “terrorist guards” were killed. Three others were also killed when contact was made at the Mango House “transit facility”.

The SADF claimed ANC members were being flown into Zambia and met at Lusaka airport by senior members of Umkhonto weSizwe, the ANC’s military wing. Some were taken to Mango House. From there, according to the SADF statement, they were ferried across the Zambezi and put on the “infiltration route” from Livingstone to Francistown to Gaborone. — AFP

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