LATE prominent Chingola businessman Mervin Kaufman's widow Peggy, says she was shocked that anybody could think that she and her sister murdered the deceased.
But some sources close to the late Kaufman, 59, said they had strong suspicions of foul play over his death as the autopsy, conducted after his body was exhumed in Kabwe, revealed that he did not die from natural causes.
Police last Sunday arrested the widow Peggy Meleka Kaufman, 37, and her sister Emily Meleka on suspicions that they murdered Kaufman.
Both have been under police custody in Ndola for the past one week.
Speaking from her police cell on Saturday, Peggy said everything that had been made public about the autopsy that was conducted was surprising and raised further suspicions on her part as the body of her husband was intact the time he was buried.
"I looked at the pictures that were shown to me. That does not reflect the way he was buried. We buried him in a casket but the pictures were showing a different coffin just a cheap thing. The manhood was missing; he had cuts on his head and a broken rib, there was nothing like that. His body was intact. It could be that the body was tampered with. How come the coffin is different and those things which were not there when I took him from hospital? He never had cuts; he never had a cut penis, all those were not there. My husband was suffering from bronchitis and pneumonia and that was the cause of his death. Records are there at Chingola South Hospital, you can find out from them," said Peggy.
But some sources close to the Kaufman said the strong suspicions about his death started on the day of burial when his daughters Veronica and Merlyn, who are both South Africans, noticed dwhile paying their last respects, that the pillow that was in the casket had blood stains and they could not see him properly because of the sun glasses that were put on his face.
"So these two children complained to the South African Embassy and they were given chance to file a police complaint and that's how the case started. During investigations there was a contradiction at the time he died. The family was told he died at 06:00 hours but the medical report indicated 23:48 hours. The other suspicions were that why was the man buried in Kabwe? And there are many other things that transpired between the day he died and the day he was buried. So when the police and pathologists were granted their request to exhume the body, that's when they discovered all those things. It was terrible but we believe justice will prevail. Whether Peggy and her sister are innocent or not, it's up to the police and the courts to tell," a source said.
The source said there were also suspicions of poisoning and it was one of the reasons why the body was exhumed.
A police source indicated yesterday that the case was a sensitive one and was being investigated thoroughly to establish facts behind Kaufman's death, adding that Peggy, her sister Emily and were in custody to help with investigations.
Another relative, Haggai Chanda called for thorough investigations on Kaufman's death.
"My brother in-law Mervin Kaufman died last November 2012 at Nchanga south hospital's intensive care unit in Chingola from breathing difficulties/lung failure according to the cause of death certificate by the doctors. The deceased's body was handed over from the hospital to the funeral house where it was prepared for burial then taken to Kabwe to be buried," he explained in a statement.
"Last month (March) or this month (April) The Zambia Police acting on information that Mr Mervin Kaufman had been poisoned by his wife Peggy Meleka Kaufman from Mr Mervin Kaufman's two adult daughters from his previous marriage who had never visited their father for the over 16 years he lived and worked in Zambia... the two ladies had actually body viewed their father's dead body along with their mother and a group of locals, arranged for Mr Kaufman's body to be dug up privately without notifying any of us as his family in Zambia of this fact."
Chanda said upon exhuming Kaufman's body, they found the body had gruesome facial, head, and body injuries and also his manhood had been cut off.
"When he was in hospital he had none of these injuries on him through to the funeral house but upon being exhumed, he died from severe beatings? My two sisters Peggy Meleka Kaufman and Emily Ngosa Meleka have both been arrested by officers in Ndola as murder suspects. Since there is no bail for people accused/suspected of this offence, they could sit in remand custody for months without being formally charged at our courts of law. Mr and Mrs Kaufman were business partners (KAUFTECH ZAMBIA LTD; KAUFMAN LTD; CARTEK BODY & SPRAY) and they have children aged 16, 14, four-years-old respectively and between 60 - 100 employees who depend on the companies being active to care for their families. Mrs Peggy M. Kaufman and her young sister Emily who have authority at the banks to sign for payments and withdrawals are not allowed to because of the nature of the accusation against them, meaning the workers do not get paid. The companies start pilling on debts and eventually they have to sell the cars, the house, tools, children pulled out of school because they can't pay school fees etc," he stated.
"The three minors lost their father in November last year and now they have lost their mother too? What about their future? Should the charge/arrest on Emily and Peggy be murder? When Mervin died in the care of medical professionals without physical injuries on him! Is it right for the children to only lose both parents and their way of life too? Is it right for a bereaved wife not only to lose her husband after nursing him then lose everything? Is it right to put the workers out of work?"
Chanda said he was puzzled and angry.
"But this is not justice for Mr Mervin Kaufman, my sisters, my nieces, the employees, the company, my whole family and to the hard working men and women of our country. If my sisters have done it, I will be the first to hand them over to face the law. Speak with the professionals and institutions that pronounced him dead and prepared the body," said Chanda.