Elizabeth Michael, popularly known as Lulu, appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s court in Dar es Salaam yesterday in connection with Saturday morning’s death of movie star Steven Charles Kanumba.
The actor was escorted to the courtroom at around 11.20 am by three police officers in plain clothes. She was in a yellow dress but few at the premises noticed her arrival and later departure as she covered her face with a pink scarf.
State Attorney In-charge Elizabeth Kaganda led the prosecution in telling Resident Magistrate Augustina Mmbando that the accused committed the offence on Saturday (April 7) at Sinza Vatican in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam Region.
The accused, who earlier submitted that she was 17 years old and not 18 as per charge sheet, was not allowed to enter any plea because murder cases are normally dealt with by the High Court.
Kaganda told the court that investigations were continuing, and the case was subsequently adjourned until April 23 for mention and Lulu taken back to custody at Segerea remand prison in a Suzuki car with registration number T 848 BNV.
The actor was arrested on Saturday and held at Oysterbay Police Station in connection with the sudden death of Kanumba (28).
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Charles Kenyela said she was held following reports that Kanumba, who is believed to have been a close friend of hers, collapsed and died after she pushed him while they were together.
“Police were told of Kanumba’s death by a younger brother of the deceased who was staying with him at Sinza Vatican. The young man called the police after noticing that Kanumba was in a critical condition after he fell off in a pushing tussle,” he explained.
Lulu’s arraignment came just a day after Kanumba was buried at the city’s Kinondoni cemetery after thousands of people paid their last respects to him at Leaders Club grounds.
The prank-like death caught Tanzanian movie enthusiasts by surprise, with outpourings of grief in many quarters inside and outside the county. It was received with shock and disbelief by the public, making it the talk of the town.
However, most of the people who showed up on Tuesday to pay their last respects to him failed in their mission after the ceremony was cut short largely owing to overwhelming turnout of mourners.
Some, desperate to get a last glance at him, said they had arrived at the funeral grounds as early as 5am and by 8am over 2,000 seats were occupied.
According to reports, the number of mourners had by 11am swelled to over 40,000, most wailing inconsolably and some fainting. The organisers and police then skipped the planned last respects, and Kanumba was buried at 2pm instead of the planned 4pm. Police had to keep out the huge crowd seeking to enter the Kinondoni cemetery to witness the burial.
The coffin bearing the movie star’s body was taken to Leaders Club grounds at around 10am by his Bongo Movies colleagues to a chorus of wailing mourners.
Some of the mourners fainted when the casket was taken off the vehicle and placed before them ready for the paying of last respects.
Mourners were to have paid their last respects for the whole day. However, following the fast-developing commotion, only Vice President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal and the ministers and various other top government officials and political leaders around managed to do so.
Soon after the leaders had left the grounds, the funeral organisers announced that time for the paying of last respects was over and the body would instead proceed to the cemetery.
The announcement prompted mourners to jostle for room to at least touch the coffin as it was being taken back into the hearse.