Tanzanian movie star Elizabeth Lulu Michael has been freed from prison, and will, henceforth, serve a non-custodial sentence.
A Dar es Saalam High Court sentenced Lulu Michael to two years in jail on November 13, 2017 for unintentionally killing fellow actor Steven Kanumba, who died on April 7, 2012.
Speaking to Tanzania’s MCL, prisons department spokesperson Lucas Mboje said Lulu Michael, who has been in jail for six months thus far, will spend the remaining period of her sentence (18 months) out of prison.
Mr Mboje says it is the High Court in Dar es Salaam which has ordered that Lulu Michael be allowed to serve her sentence out of prison.
“She was released from prison last Saturday, May 12 at 8am. This doesn’t mean that Lulu Michael is a free person now; she will continue to serve her sentence, though out of prison; it is what we call, in professional terms, community service,” said Mr Mboje.
In different inquests, before Dar es Salaam High Court judge, Sam Rumanyika, last year, it emerged that Lulu Michael was the last person seen in Kanumba’s Sinza Vatican home in Kinondoni, Dar es Saalam before he died.
The court heard that Kanumba and Lulu, who were lovers, engaged in a fight, when Kanumba inquired why Lulu was picking up a call from another man in his presence.
The fight would turn tragic, with Lulu fatally pushing Kanumba against a wall. A detective who arrested Lulu Michael on the fateful day, Ester Zephania, told the court that walls of the room, where the actor died, had black blood-like stains.
Lulu Michael’s lawyer, Peter Kibatala, requested the court to pardon the actress because she committed the crime when she was still young.
Kibatala further urged the court to forgive the award-winning film star so that “she can continue providing for her family”, given she is the bread-winner.
PANGA UNDER BED
An inquest into the death of Steven Kanumba on October 20 was told that a panga was found under the bed of the deceased (Kanumba), and black blood-like stains seen on the wall in the room where Kanumba died in April 7, 2012.
Lulu Michael was the last person seen in Kanumba’s Dar es Salaam house, when he died.
According to state witness, a doctor, who pronounced Kanumba dead after examining his body, it is Kanumba’s younger brother, Seth Bosco, who informed him that the celebrated actor had collapsed after engaging in a fight with his girlfriend, Lulu Michael.
A detective who arrested Lulu Michael on the fateful day, Ester Zephania, told the court that a panga was found under the bed of the late actor, and that walls of the room, where the actor died had black blood-like stains.
Zephania said Seth Bosco and Kanumba’s family doctor were among the first people to record statements with the police.
The following day (April 8, 2012), Lulu Michael was arrested at Bamaga Mwenge in Dar es Salaam.
Lulu Michael, who was probed by the CID boss, Wambura, told the detectives that she was feeling unwell, and needed to visit the hospital. She was released, but later re-arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Lulu was released on bail on April 29, 2013.
Lulu Michael had in a February 17, 2014 court session revealed that she quarreled with Kanumba before he died. She, however, denied causing Kanumba’s death.
Lulu, led by her advocate Peter Kibatala, admitted that she was in a relationship with the late actor.
Kanumba’s brother, Bosco, had told the court that he and Kanumba had planned to go out before Lulu came over and went to Kanumba’s bedroom, where they had a private conversation.
Bosco would, a few minutes later, hear Kanumba and Lulu Michael argue, with Kanumba questioning why Lulu picked up another man’s call when they (Lulu and Kanumba) were together.
According to court reports, Bosco witnessed Lulu attempting to storm out of Kanumba’s room, but was prevented from leaving by the actor.
Bosco told the court that after a while, Lulu came out of the room and informed him that Kanumba had fallen.
Bosco and Lulu, who rushed to Kanumba’s room, found the actor lying unconscious on the floor, and when a doctor was called and went to Kanumba’s house, he pronounced him dead after examination.
Lulu Michael had, in April, 2012, been charged with murder at Kisutu Resident Magistrates Court, before being remanded in prison for nearly seven months.
The prosecution in January 2013, amended the charges to manslaughter.
“The accused admitted that she was the last person to be with the deceased who was her boyfriend for four months,” said the judge. “That circumstantial evidence alone is not enough to make her guilty.” Judge Sam Rumanyika explained.
Lulu Michael has featured in over 30 Tanzanian films and TV shows; and amassed continent-wide recognition and accolades.
At some point, she was lauded as the most promising East African actress after several stints in Nigerian films.
Closer home, in 2016, Lulu Michael turned down advances from Kenyan gospel singer Bahati who had expressed interest in marrying her.
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