“Excuse me Sir, where can I find some vehicles to the city or boarder where the Zambian customs are?” I asked a man passing by, I had been standing on the tarred road for hours without any signs of a vehicles passing by. I realized I was in Congo seeing the flag hanging across the road at a small school.
“Hm. You see, this place is so far away from the city. Vehicles hardly pass around this place, unless the military vehicles, they at least pass here once in a week.” He explained in his scanty English.
“Military? Is there a base nearby?” I asked him.
“Yes, but not from our country, it’s on the Zambian side. A few meters down the road”
“Zambian, that makes a lot of sense, that b****** is using those soldiers, I should have known “I said aloud forgetting the man was still standing.
“What are you saying?” he asked
“Um, no, I was speaking to myself, thank you Sir” I smiled at him and watched him walk away. I had to take my chances and see for myself what was going down at the base. I recalled one of the military bases was in the deep forest towards the boarder. It was used for further training and operations. For over an hour I trekked down the tarred road and another hour in the gravel road that was going further deep into the forest, I wished I had some boots on my feet. My shoes were barely holding me as I kept slipping on the stones in the ground.
I was almost stopping to rest when the base came into view. I stood on some hilly land watching the activities of the place. A few soldiers were moving about and I could see about 4 on guard.
“The only way is to use them” I thought to myself taking cover behind the bushes as one of the guards faced my direction his gun in his hands. I waited for another 20 minutes studying the place then I saw Mr. Benson talking to one of the soldiers. My eyes quickly went to his rank and I saw he was the commander, obviously station commander for the base. I saw them shaking hands as a vehicle pulled over.
“This is your chance Ackim” I told myself running down the hill to where the car just parked. I waited for it to stop. I was thinking of getting below it so they could lead me somewhere but I felt disappointed seeing Mr. Benson and the commander heading back inside and the driver of the range rover parking and turning off the engine.
“Just a few moments more, some guys from Lusaka are calling in and I have to talk to them” I heard Mr. Benson telling the commander.
“Take your time Sir” he responded and they walked away. I looked around still hiding. I wanted to hear them but it was too risky, I was going to expose myself. So I decided to get closer to the vehicle, slowly and steadily I went to the front and peeped to see the driver.
He was listening to some music, I could see him nod his head the phone in his hands. A few steps forward he still didn’t move until I opened the door to his seat, he looked at me startling but before he could shout I held his mouth and pulled him down twisting his neck and he fall on me silent.
I looked around to check if I had alerted anyone and satisfied, I pulled him to the bushes where I had been, taking off his uniform and wearing it leaving the poor guy completely nude a heap of the clothes I had on next to me, he was dead I was sure there was no need to dress him up.
I stood up to walk back to the car and before I could turn to go a voice shouted startling me.
“Hey! “ I froze in one place not knowing what to do.
“Hey! Go on the boss is coming, what are you standing there for? “The man spoke again and I sighed in relief.
“Yes sir!” I answered.
“I was relieving myself sir” I added before turning my face down.
“well, move it man” the sergeant ordered and I walked past him to the car settling in the driver`s seat and putting on the seat belt securely.
There was a barricade between the driver`s seat and the back seat the only way of communicating was either through the small open space or the intercom besides me. Before driving closer to the Mr. Benson who was bidding his good byes to the commander, I turned it on so I could hear whatever was going on in the back.
“Let’s move! Will be joined by others by the road, that b****** has injured most of my men. Am sure these boys have picked them by now” he spoke and I sighed silently without saying a thing.
“Hey, did you get a thing I said?” he asked and I knew he needed my response. Worry creeped in when I realized I really didn’t know how the guy spoke.
s***!” I screamed in my heard.
“Yes sir!’ I tuned my voice and was relieved when my response was followed by silence.
I drove for almost half an hour towards the road and I started figuring out the way to go, I prayed in my heart, so that they could be only one way to wherever we were going and my debate ended when a wagon of vehicles came into view ahead of us.
One of the guys came to us as I stopped and straight away went to check on his boss who rolled down the windows.
“Let’s move, have you got all the injured men?” Mr. Benson asked.
“Yes Sir, they are driven ahead we were just waiting for you” the guy responded. I looked ahead seeing the vehicles moving ahead and two more behind us.
“Way to go” I spoke inside myself excitedly.
The drive back was tiring but I had to stay alert and drive at the same speed as all the vehicle to keep track.
“What is your status?” I heard Mr. Benson talk on the phone. I sat up paying attention making sure I kept my hands firm on the wheels.
“Okey, good. Make sure that mistake is not repeated” he added and cut the call.
“How far are we?” he asked me and I cleared my throat before making up a voice.
“Approaching Solwezi town Sir” I answered.
“Hey Tembo, you sound tired, are you okey?” he asked and I knew my voice was selling me out.
“A little bit sir” I responded.
“It’s understood given the work you boys have been doing, no worries though, you will be highly compensated for this” he chuckled.
“Yes sir, thank you” I responded
The second phone call came in just as we were about to join the road to his house.
“Yes daddy!” I could hear Paula`s voice as he had put the phone on loud speaker.
“Yes my baby, how is it going there?” he asked.
“Daddy, what the hell is going on there?” she screamed.
“What do you mean Paula?” he asked after a deep sigh.
“Ackim is behaving funny, is there something I should know? Is there any military calls for him again and he is hiding it from me, am worried daddy, please tell me what is going on, I miss my husband but for the past 2 days he has not bothered to call me or anything, his line is off. Where is he daddy? You must know something or someone who knows what is going on right?” she asked, I could hear her sounding upset. I felt sad at the moment, realizing I had been so much into the issue of helping Steve get Justice and I had barely thought of my wife and kids.
“What are you doing Ackim?” I asked myself.
“If I hear anything I will let you know but I think its best you stay in Australia for a while baby” He continued.
“What? You want me to stay this far apart from my husband daddy? You know I can’t do that. Am getting on a plane first thing tomorrow morning, I cannot live on like this”
“No, no, listen to me baby” Mr. Benson cut her.
“let me find Ackim and talk to him, I will try find out what is going on, you know him, if he insists you stay there for while it means it is not quiet safe here. He is obviously trying to protect you all. Please stay for a few more days longer I will get in touch” he convinced her and I heard her sigh in relief.
“A couple of days daddy” she warned and cut the line I heard Mr. Benson whisper something to himself.
“Any problem sir?” I asked him.
“That son of a b**** has to die, I cannot have him around my daughter any more. He has outlived his stay and I need him out. I don’t want my daughter and grandchildren to get hurt. The minute I get those recordings he will go down too. Let’s hope these idiots’ finds him soon” he spit and I shook my head almost scolding him for being such a hypocrite. But I held myself in and sighed.
“You will pay dearly for this father in law” I screamed inside and looked ahead the road as the vehicles in front of me slowed down.
To be continued…