GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA Writes
THE State has asked the Lusaka High Court to declare dead, a Zambia Army soldier who has been missing for over eight years to enable the management of his estate.The Attorney General cited Staff Sergeant Royd Lwengeshi as the deceased.Zambia Army (ZA) Man Power and Personnel Administration officer, Lieutenant Colonel Elias Zulu in his affidavit in support of originating summons filed in Lusaka High Court stated that Staff Sergeant Lwengeshi joined the Army in 1994.Lt.Col Zulu said S/G Lwengeshi who was deployed in Kabwe went missing on November 11, 2011 while on vacation leave. He was aged 39.He stated that after the search for him by his family proved futile, the Army convened a board of inquiry on November 20, that same year into his whereabouts.Lt Col Zulu said prior to the convening of the board of inquiry, the Zambia Police Service did issue a missing report dated January 18 2012.He said another ZA board of inquiry was convened on May 5, 2020 to declare S/G Lwengeshi dead.He stated that despite taking the said board of inquires proceedings and other documents, Public Service Pensions Fund Board declined to compensate the estate of S/G Lwengeshi on account of failure to produce an order swearing and declaring his death.Lt. Col Zulu stated that wife of the purported deceased could not access the November, 2011 salary remitted in his account.He said the estate of S/G Lwengeshi having been deemed to have retired after 24 years at the time he was presumed dead is approximately valued at K857,364.35.He stated that the law presumes a person to have died if their whereabouts are unknown for a period of seven years or more, therefore it is a fit and proper case in which the court can exercise its discretion and grant the order sought.
Lt.Col Zulu said the swear of death will not prejudice any person but in the converse, the ends of justice will be met as it will give closure to the family of S/G Lwengeshi and ZA.