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CAB018 / Zambia / PROFILE OF ZAMBIAN WARLORD DAVIES THUKUDZA

PROFILE OF ZAMBIAN WARLORD DAVIES THUKUDZA

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Post is a brief profile of purported Zambian warlord Davies “Shansha” Thukudza along with a risk assessment. End summary.

CHILDHOOD
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¶2. (U) Davies Thukudza was born on August 13th, 1984 in Mufulira, a city in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. His father, Mwape Thukudza, worked as a manager at Zambia Minerals Ltd, the largest copper mining company in the country. His mother was a teacher at the Mufulira Primary School, which Davies attended. While not wealthy, his parents were well-off and had an income far above the national average.

¶3. (U) According to his teachers, Thukudza was a very intelligent student and received excellent grades but often had trouble with following directions. He was often disciplined for disrupting class and talking back to his teachers. Thukudza moved on to Mufulira Secondary School where he played on the football team until he was kicked off for vandalizing school property. Although he was constantly in trouble for fighting, Thukudza continued to receive high marks until he suddenly stopped attending in 1999.

CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
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¶4. (SBU) According to reports from the Zambia Police Service, Thukudza was arrested on a number of occasions in his youth for charges such as for assault, assault with a deadly weapon, public intoxication, robbery, burgulary, and receiving stolen goods. (Comment: In most cases, no conviction was possible because witnesses and victims refused to testify. It’s unclear if this was due to intimidation on the part of Thukudza or the general hesitancy from the public to get involved – a common occurence in Zambia, often due to civilian distrust of the police. End comment.)

¶5. (SBU) Sources indicate that around the age of 16, Thukudza was recruited by a local militia known as the Peoples’ Defense League (PDL). While the militia attempted to give an outward appearance of a political agenda, it was common knowledge that the PDL was mainly a low-level street gang specializing in violent robberies.

¶6. (SBU) Thukudza rose up the ranks of the PDL, utilizing his strong discipline and aggressive tendencies to gain favor among his fellow militia members. During this time, he was given the nickname “Shansha” which loosely translates in Zambian slang to “Hustle”. Within two years of joining, Thukudza became the second in command to PDL leader Dennis “Mao” Bwalya.

¶7. (S) While no official evidence exists, it is believed that during this time (upon Bwalya’s orders) Thukudza committed several murders – mostly of rival militia members but he is also suspected in the unsolved murders of two police officers.

¶8. (SBU) On February 22nd, 2002 PDL leader Dennis “Mao” Bwalya was killed in a shootout with police along with three other members.

RISE TO POWER
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¶9. (SBU) After the death of Dennis Bwalya, the PDL was essentially dismantled. Thukudza recruited several members of the PDL into what he called the Zambia Peace Coucil (ZPC). Rather than going the route of his previous militia with low-level street crime, Thukudza focused his new organization’s efforts on the lucrative mining industry.

¶10. (S) Through several initial acts of violence and intimidation (Ref. #376C), Thukudza forced several of the smaller mining companies to pay protection money. After one company refused, three members of their management staff had their homes set ablaze.

¶11. (S) Seeing the success of the ZPC, several other low-level militias and gangs tried to offer the companies protection from the ZPC at a slightly lower cost. In every occasion, the ZPC neutralized opposition. Sometimes they did so through violent means, but more often than not, Thukudza simply bought out the smaller gangs. He did so by offering militia members more money and better drugs. By the end of the year, the ZPC had absorbed seven other militias and street gangs.

¶12. (C) In order to avoid problems with local police, Thukudza usually paid them off. In the rare case that an officer refused money, more violent measures were taken. On March 7th of last year, one police officer was found in a park near his home – his hands and feet had been cut off, the amputated wounds cauterized by a blow torch. The officer was alive for 37 hours before he eventually died from cardiac arrest.

¶13. (C) According to a report by the Zambian Federal Police – by the end of last year, it’s estimated that the ZPC had more than seventy active members bringing in more $350,000 USD a month from extortion, embezzlement, drugs, and illegal smuggling. (Comment: Actual numbers are probably much larger considering numerous alliances the ZPC has formed with other criminal groups in the Copperbelt Province. End comment.)

DEATH OF MWAPE THUKUDZA
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¶14. (S) As his criminal enterprise expanded, Davies Thukudza went after the larger mining companies, including Zambia Minerals Ltd (where his father worked). With constant opposition from federal law enforcement and other militias, gun battles in the Copperbelt Province became commonplace with murder rate increasing by over 300% in a matter of months. While a majority of the victims were militia members and law enforcement, dozens of civilians died in the cross-fire.

¶15. (C) On December 17th at the Zambia Minerals Ltd. corportate headquarters in Mufulira, Davies Thukudza’s father (Mwape Thukudza) was shot to death in his office. Based on witness accounts gathered by federal law enforcement, Davies was seen entering his father’s office upon which a loud screaming match ensued. One witness claims to have heard Mwape telling his son “I wish you were never born.” Shortly thereafter, seven gunshots were heard. Another witness stated that as Davies walked out of his father’s office he was holding a small football trophy – However, authorities were unable to confirm this with any of the other witnesses.

¶16. (S) Federal law enforcement officials have issued a warrant for Thukudza in connection to the murder of his father. Unfortunately, due to local law enforcement corruption, unresponsive politicians, and a fearful public, they have yet to bring him to justice.

COMMENT
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¶17. (C) Based on the US Terrorist Risk Assessment Scale (Ref. 28776), Davies “Shansha” Thukudza ranks as a 6 (10 is highest, 1 is lowest). As of now, Thukudza poses no immediate threat to US interests and currently has no ties to any major terrorist organizations. However, as his criminal organization continues to grow it is very possible Thukudza could build relationships with higher value targets – specifically in Congo and Agola. Subject will continue to be monitored and post will be updated as more intel becomes available. End comment.

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