Zambian court convicts two men for gay sex

On Aug. 3, a court in Zambia convicted two men of engaging in homosexual activity. Under Zambian law, conviction for gay sex carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life.

After their conviction in Zambia on Aug. 3 for gay sex, two men are loaded into a pickup truck to be transported back to jail. (Photo courtesy of Lusaka Times)
After their conviction in Zambia on Aug. 3 for gay sex, two men are loaded into a pickup truck to be transported back to jail. (Photo courtesy of Lusaka Times)

The case was referred to the High Court in Kapiri Mposhi for sentencing.

According to news reports in the Lusaka Times and other Zambia newspapers:

The two defendants — Japhet Chataba, 38, a carpenter from Kapiri Mposhi, and Stephen Sambo, 30, a planning officer at Ndola City Council — pleaded not guilty in the case, which has been in process since last October.

Both Chataba and Sambo pleaded not guilty to the charge, but did not present any defense witnesses.  The prosecution had five witnesses, including the arresting police officer. Four of the witnesses were eye witnesses, who said they saw Chataba having gay sex with Sambo on Aug. 25, 2017, in Room 16 at a lodge in Kapiri Mposhi.

The magistrate, Ackson Mumba, concluded that the prosecution had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Zambia's location in southern Africa. In Zambia, gay sex is punishable by a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Zambia’s location in southern Africa. In Zambia, gay sex is punishable by a prison sentence of 15 years to life.

The defendants were forced to undergo an anal examination, which occurred 10 days after they alleged engaged in gay sex. Mandatory anal exams are notorious for being both abusive and worthless in determining a person’s sexual behavior. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has said that forced anal examinations amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

According to the Lusaka Times, the doctor who conducted the results of the exam “were inconsistent with the allegations, [but the doctor added that the exam] does not exclude the possibility of sodomy.”

The defendants were represented by Daniel Libati of Abha Patel and Associates, a Ndola-based law firm. Libati had “no comment” on the outcome of the case when approached by members of the press.

Chataba and Sambo were returned to holding cells to await the sentencing.

In a similar case in Kapiri Mphoshi in 2014, two defendants were acquitted of homosexual activity after being held in prison for 14 months awaiting trial. In that case, family members testified that Philip Mubiana and James Mwape were living together as a gay couple, but had no eye-witness accounts of they engaging in gay sex.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. 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 at info@76crimes.com.

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