ON the fateful night Vespers Shimuzhila went to bed oblivious or perhaps fearing for the gathering clouds of acrimony brewing at the University of Zambia campus.
She went to bed in the firm belief of safety from harm. But as she slept, the malevolent forces conspired and ultimately smothered her young life.
The same forces, dressed in black mourning gear displayed hypocritical, remorseless and revolting indignation at her requiem service at the church she would have dearly loved to attend had she lived.
She did not live.
Some of those in black garb waxing holy and sanctimonious were ring leaders, ready to harm innocent citizens on that fateful day, had never in their lives entered a church but took the macabre opportunity of a death to show indignation.
We are not moved by pent-up emotions and wish to emphasise that those responsible for the death of Vespers from which ever camp must be brought to book.
It does not matter if it is outsiders who transported tyres to burn during the riot, if it’s students who conspired to ignite a not so spontaneous riot or it is indeed the police who acted excessively, let each culprit receive their just rewards.
In this regard, we demand for an impartial inquiry conducted by independent parties not involved in any way in the fracas. It should not be UNZA authorities, the police and least of all the students that may have participated in this accessory to murder.
Nobody, not a university student should go to bed fearing to have their life snuffed out by the reckless conduct of individuals whose desire is to cause harm against innocent citizens, be they motorists, fellow students or indeed any hapless victim who falls in their way.
We fully support the notion of an inquest that will determine the circumstances under which Vespers died, because circumstances are such that there are many conflicting stories which are sometimes contradictory.
What is clear however, is that Vespers was sleeping in her room and was not a participant to the riot. She died, from all speculation, from smoke inhalation and there were two sources of smoke.
The first was teargas of course, which police are reported to have discharged. But more insidiously was the fire in room 21 whose origin has yet to be explained. In fact two rooms have been reported to have been gutted.
It is difficult to understand how this conflagration was ignited and why it should have been in October, a women’s hostel in which most females students were cowering away from the conflict.
We would have understood if the teargas was at the ruins where most male participants would have retreated but this was not the case.
It is our sincere hope that between the postmortem results, inquest and independent investigation, the truth will be established.
We cannot as yet rule out the involvement of a third force that sponsored the mayhem, considering that substantial resources were required to finance the various aspects of the activity including the purchase of used tyres used to set alight the Great East Road.