THREE of the five murder suspects in the case of slain Lusaka student Ruth Mbandu have been discharged after the State entered a nolle prosequi.
The trio, Evans Ngulube, 58, of New Zion Church, a general worker Emmanuel Serenje, 23, and a driver Jordan Kapembwa, 25, were released yesterday.
Magistrate's Betty Malupenga discharged the trio following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito.
The remaining two are the deceased's uncle George Kalomo, 31, a pastor and Edward Siandima, 28, a business executive.
Particulars of the offence are that the duo between July 13 and 14, last year in Lusaka allegedly murdered Ruth and peeled off her facial skin before dumping her body a few metres away from her Emmasdale home.
Relatives of the discharged persons cried in what they described as tears of joy following the release of their relatives from the remand prison.
Reverend Ngulube's older brother Blackson, who was among those sobbing, thanked God for the release of his brother.
The magistrate has since set February 12, this year for another mention for the two remaining accused persons.
In a related development, police investigations into the murder of late Mbandu and two taxi drivers are still active.
Lusaka Province police chief Joyce Kasosa said in an interview yesterday that all the cases had been taken to court but that this did not mean investigations had closed.
"Gathering of evidence has been done and we have taken the cases to court. The suspects are currently appearing in court, so we cannot say we have closed the investigations," she said.
Another murder victim Mathias Chipili, 20, a taxi driver, had his facial skin peeled off, his left eye gouged out and gullet removed.
His killers also went away with his tongue after dumping his body in Roma Township.
The latest murder involved Joseph Simfukwe, 28, of Lusaka's Misisi Township who was beheaded and had his private parts removed.