Developing story: Court to determine claims of mental unfitness of alleged kidnapper, James Bwalya, April 19


A medical expert has told the Lusaka High Court that one of the alleged abductors of 13 women, James Bwalya, is mentally unfit to stand trial.

Consultant Psychiatrist, Patrick Msoni, said Bwalya had an Anti-social personality disorder, though not a mental illness.

Read more: Pamela Chisumpa’s abductors to undergo mental examination

Msoni said this when he presented the mental assessment report of Bwalya and his co-accused, Matthews Sikaonga, to High Court Judge Charles Kafunda.

He said the disorder was characterised by failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviour, by repeatedly performing acts that were grounds for arrest, deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying or conning others for personal profit or pleasure, impulsivity and lack of remorse or empathy.

He said the accused begun consuming alcohol at the age of 11 and also abused cannabis.

Msoni said that during his interview with Bwalya he showed no remorse and treated the offences as trivial.

“The patient seemed to dismiss the seriousness of the allegations and portrayed them as trivial and overtly smiled while discussing the six months ordeal the victims underwent,” he said.

He declared Sikaonga mentally unfit to take stand .

The State through its senior advocate Bob Mwewa objected to the conclusion of the report in relation to Bwalya saying the disorder was not a mental illness.

Mwewa submitted that Bwalya was fit to stand trial and the court should not adopt the conclusion of the said report.

This is a matter in which Bwalya and Sikaonga, both 22, are alleged to have abducted Pamela Chisumpa and 12 others in Lusaka’s Chalala area last year.

They are charged with 54 counts which include abduction, rape, aggravated robbery and assault.

Meanwhile, Consultant Spine Surgeon at the University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Brian Sonkwe, submitted that Bwalya who could barely sit had spine injury which he sustained when he attempted to escape from prison.

“The X-Ray assessment, Bwalya had a flexion dysfunction injury of the spine at lumbar one and two spine segments.

“There is a history of jumping over the wall fence and fall on March 12, 2023. The patient was unable to support his weight, and there was bowel and bladder dysfunction for two weeks. The pain has persisted and there is associated deformity of the back and weakness and paraesthesia of the legs. He has recovered full function of bowel and bladder,”

He said one required six weeks bed rest from the injury.

Sonkwe recommended that Bwalya be on two weeks bed rest, thereafter he would be reviewed on whether to undergo surgery.

“The injury required operative or surgical management to stabilise the spine with screws and rods,” he stated.

The trial judge adjourned the matter to Wednesday, April 19, 2023 for a ruling on the submissions and report.

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