Chilufya Tayali was arrested, charged and detained at Lusaka’s Kabwata police station on Thursday last week.
And the charge of criminal defamation Tayali is facing is one which qualified him for police bond. But Tayali was, for no good reason, denied police bond and detained for the whole Easter long weekend.
According to the Criminal Procedure Code, police are not supposed to keep any arrested person in their custody for more than 48 hours. If the investigation cannot be completed within 48 hours, police have to produce the arrested person before the court.
Tayali was denied police bond just to fix him and make him spend five days and nights in cells. There is no other good reason for denying Tayali police bond other than cruelty, inhumanity and vindictiveness. The police knew very well that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday were public holidays and no court sits on those days. They could have easily given Tayali police bond on Thursday and allowed him to go home and appear at court on Tuesday. But this was too much for them to do because of the cruel and vindictive manner they are enforcing the law.
By the time Tayali goes to court, he would have served at least a five-day jail term! There is no bail condition Tayali would have failed to meet. In order for police bond to be given to an accused person, the accused must not engage in any criminal activities while on bond; must not interfere with witnesses; must keep the peace and be of good behaviour; must have surety or sureties sufficient, in the opinion of the police officer concerned, to secure his appearance; may be released upon his or her own recognisance if such officer thinks fit; must not be facing non-bailable offences such as murder, treason, misprision of treason or treason felony and aggravated robbery; must not be facing an offence under state security Act; where the Director of Public Prosecutions certifies that it is likely that the safety or interest of the public could thereby be prejudiced; shall not be granted bail by either a Subordinate Court, the High Court or Supreme Court or be released by any police officer. The accused is not required to pay any money for police bond – police bond is free. Tayali has not failed to meet any of these bond conditions. If so, why was Tayali been denied police bond?
It has become a common practice for the police to arrest people on Fridays or just before a long holiday so that they keep them longer in cells. This is much more so with political opponents of those in power. Zambians now know that if the police are looking for you on Friday, it is because they don’t want to release you on bond and want to keep you in cells for the whole weekend. And in response to this, Zambians have resorted to disappearing and reporting themselves to the police after the weekend. Why does the police do this? Cruelty! Vindictiveness! Inhumanity! We have very cruel elements in control of the police and inflicting pain on others gives them big kicks. They enjoy humiliating others! And they call themselves Christians! These are the people in whose hands we have placed our law enforcement!
But what do they benefit from this cruelty? What do they think they can achieve from such inhumanity? Break Tayali! We highly doubt it. They are not dealing with children but principled adults who know their rights and duties. What type of policing or law enforcement are Zambians now being subjected to under this Patriotic Front government of Edgar Lungu? We never expected Edgar to run a good government because his past record does not show him to be a person capable of doing so. But still we never expected things to sink this low.
And they don’t seem to have any regard even for people they worked with. Tayali was their friend and had reasonable access to Edgar and other top people in his league. But today, simply because his sense of justice and humanity has made him to question or challenge some of their actions, then Tayali has become an enemy who should be mercilessly nailed to the cross.
And look at the way Edgar has used, or rather abused, the judicial process to fix his onetime friend or ally Obvious Mwaliteta! Edgar has completely forgotten how much effort Mwaliteta had put in to ensure his adoption as the Patriotic Front candidate in 2014! Today, Mwaliteta is languishing in prison on a non-bailable aggravated robbery charge. We can’t say much about the merits or demerits of Mwaliteta’s charges for subjudice reasons but time will soon tell us the truth.
It is time Zambians paid serious attention to the police bond issue and the unjustified detention of people over the long weekend to exceed the 48 hours limit.