Zambia: Sister and police testify against gay pair

Kapiri Mposhi police station, where James Mwape and Philip Mubiana are held while awaiting court proceedings.
Kapiri Mposhi police station, where James Mwape and Philip Mubiana are held while awaiting court proceedings.

Witnesses against two men on trial in Zambia for homosexuality testified this week about the circumstances of their arrest and their interview by police, but gave no direct testimony about the sexual relations they are charged with.

James Mwape, 21, and Philip Mubiana, also 21, of rural Kapiri Mposhi are charged with “carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature,” a crime that under Zambian law can lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

The latest Times of Zambia article reported on the testimony of police and a family member, but did not mention that the magistrate had closed the trial to the public, as other articles did.

The trial is to continue June 18 and 19, the Times said.

The article said:

Henry Shazala, the police officer who received the complaint against the two, testified that while on duty on April 25, this year, he received a report from Sharon Mubiana who said she had heard reports that her younger brother, Philip was staying with another man and acting as a ‘wife’. …

He said the complainant further said she ended up developing hypertension together with her mother who later died following reports that Philip was behaving like a woman. …

Mr Shazala said as Sharon with other people apprehended the two suspects, a Mr Wakumelo attempted to speak to them inside the house and upon hearing his voice, Philip accused him of “admiring” his alleged husband James.

The witness said Philip told Mr Wakumelo that if he was interested, he could open the door for him so that he could also have his turn.”

In an interview with police, Shazala said:

He asked Philip if he was married to James but he did not respond.

When he asked James, Philip interjected and asked his co-accused to respond and tell the truth that they were married and that their relationship spanned a long time.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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