The Lusaka Strangler - Zambia's World Record Serial KillerWatch the video here which covers the full case [21:45]: The Lusaka Strangler - Zambia’s World Record Serial Killer | True Crime (Please like and subscribe, these take ages to make!) A special thanks to u/moondog151 who actually showed this case to me, and originally got in touch to suggest making a video about it. [Transcript] The definition of a serial killer is as follows: A person who murders three or more people over a period of more than thirty days, with an inactive period between each murder, and whose motivation for killing is largely based on psychological gratification. Many murderers have been categorised by this description over the years, with the likes of Jack The Ripper and Ted Bundy going down in history as some of the most notorious to have ever lived. There is, however, one man who holds the horrific world record for claiming the most victims in a shorter period of time than any serial killer before or since, and it’s likely that you’ve never even heard of him. This is the story of The Lusaka Strangler, Zambia’s world record serial killer. On January 5th 1980, an anonymous call was made to the Central Lusaka Police Station in Zambia to report the discovery of a dead body lying in the playing field behind the Lusaka Boys Primary School. When police arrived, they found the corpse of a woman who was already in a semi-decomposed state. As a result, it was not possible to specify the exact cause of death, but one thing they could determine was that the woman must have been murdered elsewhere and later moved to her current location. The woman was identified as being Grace Siambilu, a 21 year old woman who had travelled from Sinazongwe to Lusaka to deliver a letter to her brother. She was due to travel to Kitwe to attend an interview at the Zambian Institute of Technology, but sadly this opportunity was taken away from her by the hands of a murderer. Police initially had no leads to who the killer could be, and they would soon find out that this wasn’t to be a one off. The next day, on January 6th, the body of another dead woman would be found lying by a footpath off Chitukuko Road. The police determined that the unidentified woman, who had been raped and strangled, must have been murdered where she was found, as there were scattered beads and torn knickers found a few metres from the body, alluding to the fact that the killer committed the crime at that exact location. The body had significant bruising on her neck and on her navel, with a strange foam like substance emitting from her mouth and nose, suggesting that the suspect may have used some sort of chemicals as part of his attack. Attempts to identify the woman failed, and authorities were no clearer on who could have committed such a brutal crime. The police would soon come to realise that these murders were just the beginning of a killing spree which would span the course of 9 months, with women and children as young as 10 years old being murdered at a rate of almost once a week. On January 30th, 25 days since the first body was found, police found a sixth victim, 21 year old Clodia Maimbolwa, who had once again been strangled and reportedly seen in the company of a Zambian soldier. At this point, the police knew that these murders were all linked due to the nature of the attacks, the demographic of the victims and the rate in which these women were being killed, but they still weren’t able to establish if this was the act of an organised gang or a lone wolf. All the bodies up to this point seemed to be left in fairly open areas where they would be easily found, alluding to the idea that whoever was committing these crimes wanted everyone to know about it, especially the Lusaka police. It wouldn’t be until the 16th victim that police would finally get a clue as to the Strangler’s motives, although what they discovered ultimately left more questions than answers. Upon finding the body of 15 year old Miriam Chiwala, who much like the others had been brutally raped and strangled, police found a message on a piece of cardboard lying near the body, presumably left by the Strangler. The message read, “Nothing to say guys and don’t mind all what I told you when you were going for elections. Comrades no woman now. Please my friend be careful how you walk, yours no woman now.” The meaning behind this note left many scratching their heads, although it sounds as though the Strangler was talking directly to someone he had spoken to before. Perhaps he knew someone in the police force working on his case, and was playing a game of cat and mouse? Whatever the meaning behind the message, the search continued for the elusive killer. Pressure began to grow on the Lusaka police, with the press calling for the government to bring in assistance from international forces, such as New Scotland Yard in Britain and the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany. However, the Zambian government decided against this, believing that it would be too costly to seek international assistance for a case that they could solve themselves. Zambia had only gained independence from the United Kingdom 16 years prior, so there may have been other political pressures to show the world that they could handle their internal affairs alone. Media campaigns warning women to be vigilant, a strict dusk to dawn curfew and a reward of 10,000 Zambian Kwacha were all implemented by the government to aid in catching The Lusaka Strangler. None of these actions would prove to slow down the killings, and by June 16th, the death toll stood at twenty three, all of them female victims. By this point, the best officers from all over Zambia were brought together to form a Special Investigations Team, or SIT, and begin ‘Operation Rosemary’ in an attempt to thwart the killings. Superintendent William Mundia, who led SIT, concluded that The Lusaka Strangler was just one man, as the similarities between the victims were too alike to be the actions of many. The SIT began carrying out mass surveillance around areas of Lusaka where previous bodies were found, and on July 16th, a breakthrough in the case was made. At around 7:30pm, Detective Constable Chikoti, who was observing activity around Kamwala bus station, noticed a young woman in a green dress with white stripes speaking with a soldier in combat gear. Feeling suspicious, he noted down that the soldier had some ‘traditional marks on his face, was beardless, slightly short and stout’, whilst the woman was ‘brown, tall and slim with a lot of hair’. After around half an hour, the pair left the bus stop and headed towards Kamwala, disappearing into the night. Chiktoti’s suspicions would be proven true, as the next day, the same woman reported to the police that she had just narrowly escaped a dreadful fate at the hands of the Lusaka Strangler. The woman in question was 19 year old Nora Soko, who was travelling to Lusaka to visit her parents from Kitwe. Upon arriving at Kamwala bus station, and well aware of the threat of a serial killer in the area, she claimed she was approached by two soldiers; one wearing combat gear and the other in a green uniform. The soldier in green left after a while, but the man in combat gear offered to escort Nora to her final destination in Lusaka, which she said she politely declined. Nora then explained how she was forced to follow the man, who without warning picked up her basket containing all her belongings and national registration card and began walking away at speed. Upon reaching a small bush path, the soldier introduced himself as Lieutenant Nyambe, and asked Nora if she thought she would be able to recognise him outside of his combat uniform. When she replied that she could, she told police how “...he got hold of me by the shoulders and forced me down. He started squeezing my neck. I managed to kick him off me. In turn he produced something which looked like a shifting spanner and hit me on my navel while saying ‘you are the only girl who I have failed to kill. I have killed the rest so you are the one who will cause me to be arrested.’ He again hit me severly on the navel and that was the last thing I remembered.” During the attack, three security guards on duty nearby heard Nora’s screams of terror and began rushing towards her direction whilst blowing their whistles. This is most likely the reason for Nyambe’s comments, as he probably knew he didn’t have the time to kill Nora, and fled the scene in fear of being arrested. Thankfully for Nora, the alerts from the security guards most likely saved her life, and her survival was welcome news for Superintendent Mundia. Nora sustained multiple bruises on her abdomen from the attack, and had fingernail scratches along the sides of her neck. She also began developing sores on her tongue, which were caused by an unknown chemical substance which she had been forced to take. Nora Soko now became a critical part of Operation Rosemary, and confidently told police that she could identify The Lusaka Strangler without any doubt to help bring his reign of terror to an end. The police learnt from Nora’s statement that the killer dressed in a soldier’s uniform, which was confirmed by the previous description of the sighting of a soldier accompanying Clodia Maimbolwa on January 30th. Police now began narrowing their search field, looking for either a former soldier or a man who disguised in army uniform. Unfortunately, efforts to find Nyambe would remain difficult, as another victim would be found strangled 5 days later. At this point, the killings stopped, and the whole of August saw no reported deaths linked to The Lusaka Strangler. This hiatus didn’t last long however, and another body was eventually found on September 12th, but this time the killer had changed his methods. Rather than strangulation, the victim’s abdomen had been mutilated so horrifically that her intestines were protruding from her body. It’s likely that police were able to link this murder to the Lusaka Strangler based on Nora Soko’s attack, where her abdomen was also struck by the killer with a spanner-like tool. It seemed as though the terror of The Lusaka Strangler had begun again, with the nation gripped by fear as Zambia’s most ruthless serial killer re-emerged. This was, however, to be the Strangler’s last victim as his next target would once again live to tell the tale. On 17th September, Josephine Mukatasha and her baby daughter left their home in Chingola to travel to Mumbwa by bus via Lusaka. With her daughter strapped to her body in a makeshift baby carrier, Josephine ended up befriending another woman along her journey, who was travelling to Petauke. Arriving in Lusaka at 8:15pm, they both realised that there were no buses scheduled to either of their destinations that evening, and so decided to spend the night at the bus terminal together until the following morning. It wasn’t long before they were approached by two soldiers, just as Nora Soko had claimed previously on the day of her attack. The soldier’s began talking to the women, asking them to produce their national registration cards and questioning their movements. The men then ordered the women to accompany them for the night in a nearby hotel, and would not take no for an answer. The soldiers picked up the belongings of the Petauke bound woman and began walking away from the station, forcing the girl to follow the men in pursuit of her possessions. Josephine refused to join her and decided to stay at the terminal. After some time, one of the soldiers returned and explained that the Petauke woman had now decided to stay with the other soldier at the hotel, and that she was now sleeping comfortably with him. Josephine reluctantly obliged to now follow the soldier back to the same hotel, and they made their way together into the night. After around 30 minutes, the soldier guided Josephine down a narrow path. It’s at this point, with her baby daughter still attached to her person, that the soldier grabbed Josephine’s neck with both hands and began squeezing tightly until she lost consciousness. Much like the previous victims of The Lusaka Strangler, you would expect that this would be the end of the story for Josephine. However, by what must have felt like a miracle, Josephine survived the attack and woke up some time later that evening. “I regained consciousness and note that my child was lying beside me crying” she later explained to the police. “My national registration card which was in my suitcase was now placed near my head, but the suitcase was gone”. Her wrist watch and her wedding ring were also taken from her person whilst she was unconscious. Relieved to be alive, she quickly gathered her child and staggered towards some houses to seek help, where she managed to find refuge for the night. The next morning, on September 8th, Josephine reported her attack to SIT, who now knew they were certain to be looking for either two active members of the Zambian Army or men who were using that disguise as a ploy to lure women. The whereabouts and identity of the Petauke woman has never been confirmed, and therefore her fate has never been fully understood, but if history was to tell us anything from the previous victims of The Lusaka Strangler, it’s likely that she met her demise at the hands of the second soldier that night. Police were certain that Nora Soko’s and Josephine Mukatasha’s attackers were the same person, as the descriptions that both of them gave matched almost identically. With the search narrowing on the assailant, police came up with a strategy to try and lure the killer into their hands. On September 16th, just over a week after her attack, the SIT sent detectives along with Josephine back to Kamwala bus station to see if she could spot the man who tried to take her life. The plan was for Josephine to wander out in the open to lure the Strangler into a trap whilst the undercover detectives would observe from afar. At 7:30pm, just as planned, the same man in army uniform approached Josephine and introduced himself to her. Despite having attacked her only a week ago, he seemed to not recognise Josephine whatsoever, saying, ‘I happen to have seen you somewhere!’ Josephine made up a story that she had never met him before and had just arrived in town from Chingola. Just like the night he strangled her, he asked if she would accompany him at a local hotel. Josephine knew for certain that this was the man who tried to take her life, and not just because she recognised the man’s face. Attached to the man’s wrist, in plain sight, was Josephine’s missing watch, the same watch that was stolen from her the night she was strangled. She agreed to join him and asked him to wait so that she could go collect her luggage, but instead alerted the officers that were watching in the distance. Detectives moved in when the signal was made, and after putting up some resistance, the soldier was subdued and taken to Lusaka Central Police Station. The man, who had originally called himself Lieutenant Nyambe, was identified as Milton Mufungulwa Sipalo of House No. 23 Arakan Barracks in Lusaka. Police raided the barracks the next day and seized a number of items, including much of Josephine’s belongings. When confronted with the evidence, Sipalo claimed that Josephine came to his house at the barracks for sexual relations, but that once he noticed she had an operation on her abdomen he decided against it. He claimed that she left with her child the next morning but never came back to collect her belongings. Police didn’t buy the story, and instead took Sipalo to Lusaka Central with another soldier who was implicated with the murders to take part in an identification parade. The other soldier in question was Kenneth Kaluwe, who was also from the Arakan Barracks. Three witnesses, including Nora Soko and Josephine Mukatasha, confirmed that their attacker was indeed Milton Sipalo from the line up. None of them, however, identified Kaluwe as the second soldier. When Sipalo was pointed out by the women, rather than profess his innocence, he plainly said “...if they can pick me from the line of others, then I am the one who tried to kill them.” On the same afternoon, Sipalo led a team of officers, including Superintendent Mundia, to various spots in Lusaka where he allegedly strangled some of his victims, and claimed that Kaluwe was his accomplice who would help him commit these acts. Kaluwe denied having anything to do with the murders, yet police still had reason to believe he may have been the second soldier, so decided to further search the homes of both suspects. Sipalo’s house had a number of items belonging to nine of the victims of The Lusaka Strangler, including property belonging to Nora and Josephine. Nothing was found in Kaluwe’s house however, and due to a lack of evidence linking him to the crimes he was eventually released from custody. Police knew they finally had their man, and Zambia could finally breathe a huge sigh of relief as the notorious Lusaka Strangler was now in the hands of the authorities. The only thing left to uncover was the motives for his killings, with the hope that The Lusaka Strangler’s murderous reign could finally be understood. Sipalo, however, had other ideas. The day after being identified as the killer, whilst being transported to a conference room for interrogation, Sipalo managed to break free from the clutches of the police and made his way to the roof of the building. Standing over the edge of the police station, in a final act of desperation, he threatened to throw himself off and commit suicide. Despite the efforts of the police, fire brigade and onlookers, Sipalo lept from the roof and met his demise on the ground below, robbing the entire country of an explanation for his sinister crimes. At the time of his death, The Lusaka Strangler had ended up claiming the lives of 29 women and children at a rate of once per week between January and September. Sipalo’s suicide meant that much of this case will forever remain a mystery, and true justice will never be brought to the victims of Zambia. What were his motives? How many more had he possibly killed? And if Kaluwe wasn’t the second soldier, then who was? All of these questions will most likely remain unanswered forever, but whilst Sipalo may have left Zambia without closure, one thing he did leave them with was an unwanted, gruesome world record as the nation’s most prolific serial killer. Sources: