The owner and crew members of the boat that capsized killing 11 children at Lake Chivero on Christmas Day last year were performing a ritual on the day, the court heard yesterday.
Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza said Latif Ameer (53) and crew members Fadil Ramon Weale (27), Enock Yolani Zulu (36) and Joseph Abrahams (37) were performing a ritual at the lake and killing the children was part of the rite. The four are facing 11 counts of culpable homicide.
Mr Reza was speaking after Zulu said during cross-examination that he could not recite the Lord’s prayer. Mr Reza had asked him about his religion and Zulu said he was a Christian. But he raised doubts when Zulu said he was not familiar with the Lord’s prayer, even its Shona version.
“I put it to you that all the four of you conspired to kill these innocent children on December 25 . . . and by winking at each other . . . and you switching off the engine immediately after that, shows this was a ritual on Christmas Day,” he said.
When asked to comment on the allegations, Zulu said: “Kufunga kwenyu.” (That is your opinion). During his evidence-in-chief, Zulu exonerated Ameer when he told the court that he was not the one who authorised him to drive his boat. He said he never met with Ameer on the day in question.
Mr Reza then made him to go through his statement at the police in which he admitted meeting Ameer and entering into a contract with him to drive his boat for a payment of US$10. In the statement, Zulu told police that after the boat had been loaded, he asked for life saving jackets from Abrahams, who told him they were not necessary and were not even there.
Zulu also disowned his defence outline which he earlier gave in court that contained similar information with his police recorded statement. “When you switched off the engine, the boat started to sink and water getting inside, you then told the people on board that these were just waves and they should not worry,” said Mr Reza.
“Why did you tell them that when in actual fact they were not waves?”
Zulu said he lied to them so as to calm the children who were now panicking when the boat started sinking. Mr Reza then labelled him an “accomplished liar”. Zulu further told the court that Weale might have winked due to wind which got into his eyes. Abrahams in his evidence-in-chief denied collecting money for the boat cruise.
He said he was busy on his mobile phone when the boat was loaded, hence did not pay much attention to the activities taking place at the harbour. The defence case opened after the four had their applications for discharge at the close of the State case dismissed by magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe.
Mr Mahwe ruled the State had managed to prove a prima-facie case against them. The Herald