Worry and fear for what would befall my son gripped me so hard. Even as Monde drove me home, I couldn’t refrain myself from thinking about what danger lay in my Fred’s path, heaven knows I wouldn’t be able to keep myself in check if anything bad was to happen to my son.
“I wish you hadn’t taken me there, Monde.”
“And I wish you’d stop complaining already, Alicia. Mama Makasa told you Fred’s innocent, you should be happy instead of whining like you’re doing.”
“And will Mama Makasa’s premonition help in my son’s case?”
Monde shook her head and spared me a glance. “Why don’t you just flip the coin and think about the part where there’s a lunatic on the leash who can come for you any minute?”
“Yeah, let me think about that cause it’s the brighter side, right?” I was being sarcastic. “Let me think about the person close to me who’s capable of committing murder like they were killing a chicken and then I won’t freak out. How convenient! For all I know, the murderer could even be you, Monde.”
“That’s harsh, Alicia. I’m hurt by your words.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, leaning my head against my closed window. “It’s just that all this has me confused and desperate to find evidence that can prove Fred’s innocence.”
“I can understand, but just have faith in God cause I believe He always paves a way.”
“Speaking of God, I’ve just spotted a church. Will you stop the car so that I can go have a talk with Him?”
Monde pulled up in the driveway. Seeing the trousers I was wearing, she handed me her chitenge(wrapper). She at least was wearing a long dress that almost swept the ground as she walked. I thanked her and together, we went into the church as the door was ajar.
Monde and I made our way to the alter where we knelt before a statue of Jesus Christ on the cross. We folded our hands in prayer and closed our eyes.
‘Father Lord,’ I silently prayed. ‘I know I am a sinner but I’ll still come before you this afternoon and ask you to please save my son from the injustice that is about to be inflicted upon him. You said in your word that you’ll always vindicate your people. I admit my son isn’t really righteous but please vindicate him and let the rightful culprit be brought to book…..’
I silently said whatever came to mind for the next few minutes and when I finally said ‘Amen’ aloud and opened my eyes, Monde was already doing the sign of the cross. She too had finished praying.
“All shall be well, dear friend,” said Monde in comfort, patting my right hand. “God never forsakes his children.”
“I hope and believe so.”
Curtis insisted he drives me to the courthouse as he didn’t think I was in the right state to drive with all that was going on. My pregnancy, today being Fred’s court hearing day and still there was no evidence to prove him innocent really had me worried sick.
Curtis insisted refrain from worrying as that wasn’t healthy for our unborn baby.
We arrived at the courthouse and went right in. There were so many familiar faces in the courtroom and some strange faces too. On the side of the familiar faces, the following were present, Lubona, Monde, Baison, Diana, Mulenga, Sibajene, Helen, Bob, some of Lubona’s relatives and the list goes on.
Curtis and I sat on the first pew at the right hand side of the courtroom. I couldn’t see Fred anywhere so I presumed he hadn’t been brought in just yet.
“All rise, the honorable Judge Chiti presiding.”
Like really? I thought. The Judge’s name just had to be Chiti?
The court hearing began.
Tears welled in my eyes as Fred was brought into the courtroom, in shackles. My son was no murderer thus he didn’t deserve to be chained down like a beast.
Murmurs erupted in the courtroom as Fred was ushered to the dock.
“Silence in court!” barked the Judge and indeed there was silence.
After being sworn in, Fred was asked by the Judge, “Mr. Frederick Chizinga, according to the penal code act of chapter 3 of the constitution of Zambia, you’re being accused of third degree murder on one Mrs. Angela Habeenzu Chizinga. What plead you, guilty or not guilty?”
Fred wasted no time whatsoever. “Not guilty, your Honor.”
“We shall see to that by the end of this session. Let the trial begin.”
The lawyer hired by Angie’s family was first to question Fred.
“Mr. Frederick Chizinga, kindly enlighten us on the sort of relationship you and the deceased had shared.”
“She was my stepmother and I her stepson. We never really saw eye to eye but we mostly kept ourselves out of each others way.”
“Why was that?”
“She never like me, she had made that clear. Who was I to force a relationship between her and I?”
“Sadly, we can’t prove whether what you’re saying is true or not because Mrs. Chizinga is not here to defend herself.”
“You can ask my Dad,” said Fred. “He’s right in this courtroom.”
“You don’t get to tell us how to run the trial,” said the lawyer, obviously irritated. “So, would you tell the court why at one point you changed your name from Frederick Chizinga to Logan Meleki?”
“That’s simple, I did that because I was sick and tired of staying with Dad and stepmother so I decided to get some money from Dad’s safe and-”
“Get or steal?” the lawyer interrupted. “I’m talking about the money, did you get or steal it? There’s a huge difference between getting and stealing so please be clear as you speak.”
“Objection your Honor,” piped up the lawyer we had hired.
“It’s high time you spoke up,” I muttered under my breath from where I was seated.
Curtis must have heard as I felt him squeeze my hand and give me the ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ look.
“The question is irrelevant to the trial,” said our lawyer.
The Judge begrudgingly said, “Objection overruled.”
The other lawyer smiled in victory. “I asked you a question.”
“You can say I stole it, asked a friend of mine to make me a fake ID and then I flew to Zambia in search of my mother.”
“Interesting. Where were you on the 17th of February this year? From 9 PM to 12 AM to be precise?”
“I was sleeping in the one-roomed house that I had rented in Mtendere. I can even take you there if you like.”
The lawyer chuckled. “There will be no need for that. Did you or did you not receive a call from your stepmother that night?”
“I did receive a call,” Fred bravely replied, it was obviously clear he had no skeletons in his closet. “I’d just turned on my phone so I could give my mum a call when the call from stepmother came through. I picked up but no one was saying a thing on the other end of the line so I hang up.”
“I’m sure you did. What do you have to say about your stepmother carrying your baby before she died?”
There were murmurs in the courtroom again but the Judge did his job and there was silence once again. From where Bob was seated, his jaw was almost hitting the floor. It was obvious he was hearing the Fred and Angie fiasco for the first time.
“I asked you something, Mr. Frederick Chizinga.”
Fred fidgeted and I saw his adam’s apple go up and down as he swallowed. “I wasn’t aware the child was mine but I did sleep with my stepmother, after she literally seduced me.”
“Yangu tata Lesa natola umupamba wakwa Chibale!” chorused one of Angie’s aunts. She was simply talking about an abomination.
“If you disturb the proceedings like that once more,” warned the Judge sternly. “I’ll be forced to have you thrown out of my courtroom.”
Angie’s aunt shut her loud mouth like someone had just poured a bucket of ice atop her head.
The Judge beckoned the lawyer to proceed.
The lawyer nodded. “We found your hair samples on one of the deceased’s wounds and your DNA matched with that of the unborn baby,” said the lawyer. He turned to face the Judge. “Your Honor, we already have a motive here. The accused was simply trying his best to keep the abomination that the deceased and him had committed hidden thus he ended her life by brutally murdering her. Why he laid her body on his mother’s doorstep is still a mystery to us though. But it is clear the accused is more than guilty for the murder of the late Mrs. Angela Habeenzu Chizinga.”
“Objection your Honor,” our lawyer rose to his feet. “No one is guilty until proven so by the court of law.”
“That will be all,” the other lawyer maliciously smiled and went back to his seat.
Our lawyer then questioned Fred but his questions seemed irrelevant to me so I zoned out. I couldn’t seem to stop myself from thinking about the danger that Mama Makasa had foretold. When I glanced at the familiar faces in the courtroom, I shuddered as I realized one of them was the true murderer. But who could it be?
Bob and Lubona were interrogated too and they said almost exactly what they had said back at the police station three months prior to this day. Diana was also brought to the stand concerning the sessions she had had with Fred whilst he was staying with me.
“I once believed the accused could have been suffering from bipolar disorder but as it is, he’s been tested and he has no mental disorder. That being said, I believe he’s a sweet, shy and harmless kid who isn’t capable of hurting a fly.”
I let myself smile. Being a renowned psychiatrist, Diana’s words sure would have an impact on the trial, at least that’s what I thought.
After what seemed like an eternity, it was finally time for the Judge to pass his Judgement.
Even as we all rose to our feet as per his instructions, my heart was thumping against my chest that I feared it would fly out of my ribcage. I glanced at Bob and noticed he was as tense as I was, perspiring profusely. Hell, almost everyone present was tense.
The Judge was saying, “After listening to the evidence that has been provided and going through the documents myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Even though the death penalty isn’t advised in our country nowadays, I’ll make an exception with this serial killer thus I hereby sentence him to death by being injected with a lethal drug.”
No sooner had the Judge uttered his last word than I felt lightheaded. Everything in the room was a blur to me as it was spinning and as a result, I passed out.