BREAKING: Barotseland independence activist dies in Zambian prison in unclear circumstances

15 August 2020
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FILE: [L-R] Inambao Kalima, Afumba Mombotwaand Likando Pelekelo in 2013 - CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

 

Likando Pelekelo (65), one of the three Barotseland political leaders imprisoned for peacefully advocating the independence of Barotseland, has died in Zambia’s Mukobeko maximum prison in very unclear circumstances early Saturday morning.

And unconfirmed reports by the Zambian Watchdog indicate that Mukobeko state prison has been hit by COVID-19 while accusing prison authorities and the Zambian government of covering it up.

The Zambian Watchdog, in a social media post, was quoting a Zambian politician who bemoaned the COVID-19 unpreparedness at Mukobeko in the face of the looming pandemic with three deaths already suspected to be COVID-19 related.

However, an independent source at the state penitentiary has said that Likando suddenly took ill the past week or so, presenting body swelling and chest pains.

He collapsed and died after returning from some private infirmary this morning as the prison medical facility reportedly offered him no meaningful help.

Meanwhile, the Zambian government, through its prison service, has been quiet about Likando’s sickness and will very likely keep his death from the public eye, like they have kept the trio’s arrest, trial and eventual imprisonment.

The deceased and his two counterparts, sworn Barotseland Administrator Afumba Mombotwa (61) and Inambao Kalima (60), are paying the high price of treason felony for merely peacefully campaigning for a conflict-free separation of Barotseland from Zambia in line with the Barotse National Council (BNC) declaration of 2012.

The March 2012 BNC, which was regularly summoned by the reigning King of Barotseland, Imwiko II, and sanctioned by the government of Zambia in conjunction with the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to look into the long-standing matter of the defunct pre-independence Barotseland Agreement 1964, unanimously resolved to pursue a peaceful separation due to unamenable disagreements between the Barotse territory and the Republic of Zambia.

However, unamused by the historic 2012 BNC outcome, the Zambian government swung to suppress any further calls for Barotseland independence, often arresting and incarcerating key campaigners without any trial.

In December 2014, Likando Pelekelo, Afumba Mombotwa and Inambao Kalima were arrested and later tried and convicted for treason felony by the Zambian High Court.

After a highly questionable trial, the three were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour in March 2016 but had their sentences surprisingly extended to 15 years by the Supreme Court in September 2018 for merely appealing their High Court conviction to Zambia’s highest court.

In its ruling extending their jail sentences, the Supreme Court considered their action to appeal as a sign of self-righteousness and a lack of remorse, as though the three did not have any right of appeal, a right enjoyed by all other citizens in Zambia.

In November last year, while amusing himself on his 63rd birthday, Zambian President Edgar Lungu announced publicly that he had pardoned Afumba Mombotwa, among four others, only for his Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kapyongo, to announce a few hours later that Afumba's pardon had been reversed, an action never before witnessed in Zambia.

The three Barotseland political prisoners have suffered untold misery in various Zambian jails, and Likando's death in prison is the highest of all sacrifices any Barotseland activists have had to face yet!

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.