THE revelations that police will next week present before court the people apprehended in the suspected ritual killings in George and Zingalume townships, must come as a relief to Zambians.
This is not to conclude that the suspects are already guilty but that the case has actually moved from being a mystery to something tangible.
Since Zambia has a democratic justice system, we expect the State to accord the suspects a fair hearing so that those who are innocent can walk to freedom while the guilty can face the full force of the law.
In Zambia, no one is guilty before being tried and convicted. All the accused are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty or acquitted at the end of trial.
It is therefore, important that should the suspects in the ritual murders appear in court, those attending trial should not jump to the conclusion that they are guilty. No. We should avoid making unverified and unjustified conclusions.
The justice system should be allowed to run the full circle so that Zambians can get to the bottom of the crime which took the lives of seven of our dear citizens in such gruesome circumstances.
To those who lost their loved ones, the appearance of suspects in court should be a mixture of relief and pain.
Pain because nothing can replace a life of an innocent individual who could have been a son, a brother, a father or husband. But it is a relief because some of the witnesses and possibly suspects will eventually tell the court what the senseless killings were all about.
The mystery of how these men died and whether the motive behind the killings were ritual or body parts trade will finally be unlocked.
Obviously such revelations will equip Zambians, especially the police, on how to handle such challenges in future.
But as we have said the taking to court of the suspects does not guarantee the immediate unlocking of the mystery of the heinous crime that paralysed George and Zingalume townships and Lusaka in general.
The trial will need patience and self-restraint on the part of family members of those who lost their loved one.
However, the expectation of everyone should be that the police have done their homework and are ready for the suspects to be presented before a court.
It will be a disservice to Zambians for the latest heinous crime to fall in the category of Ruth Mbundu, that young college girl-child who was kidnapped, killed, defaced and her eyes gorged out in Lusaka’s Emmasdale area. To-date her killers are still at large.
When we say this, we are not encouraging the justice system to overlook the vital ingredients of the present case and pass unfair verdict.
What Zambians demand is a fair dispensation of justice.
This is why we applaud Inspector General of Police’s revelation that suspects will finally be presented before court next week in connection with the high-profile murder spree that almost set Lusaka on fire.