LUSAKA magistrate Greenwell Malumani this morning told principal state advocate Gamaliel Zimba to have order and observe professional etiquette in court.
The magistrate also ordered police officers who were inside court to leave following a complain from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s lead defence lawyer Vincent Malambo.
Magistrate Malumani addressed Zimba and told him that he was a senior member of the bar and principal state advocate who should not display certain conduct in court.
When the treason case of Hichilema and five others was called for the State to respond to some preliminary issues that were raised yesterday, Malambo told the court that he had a concern about the atmosphere which had been created in the courtroom saying in the many years he had been at the bar, he had never addressed the court while police officers were standing behind.
He said this was the third day the case came up for hearing with a lot of police officers around.
Malambo said said he was unable to discharge his functions as an advocate because of the atmosphere created in court and that he needed guidance if the invitation of police officers was from the court.
He added that accessing the court today was almost impossible for them to come to their place of work.
Malambo also said the defence was worried with the safety of another of Hichilema’s lawyer, Keith Mweemba, as he had instructed him to tell the court that his premises were under constant watch by persons unknown to him.
He added that he had defended treason charges before and that there was absolutely nothing special about Hichilema’s case, adding that the atmosphere was not good.
And Mweemba narrated how unknown people had been trailing him to the point where they started banging on his gate at home.
He said the threats he was receiving caused him and his family members to leave home for safety.
Mweemba added that if it were not for the respect he had for the other senior lawyers defending the matter, he would withdrawn his services to the case to ensure safety of his family.
At this point, Zimba rose to respond and started by saying that he had been joined by deputy chief advocate taxation and financial crime Catherine Phiri and Marian Bah Matandala, who is deputy chief state advocate, and said the State was ready to respond.
Zimba said Mweemba did not know the individuals hoovering around his premises and that the state was neither aware of them.
He said it would be utter speculation to say those individuals were from state institutions and added that the state would also speculate that those individuals could be Mweemba’s clients.
At this point, Malambo stood to object but Zimba continued being on his feet.
“Mr Zimba, let’s have order, you are a senior member of the bar and a principal state advocate,” magistrate Malumani said.
He said when Malambo stood, Zimba should have sat down as that was the procedure.
Magistrate Malumani told Zimba to uphold professional etiquette in court and not to display certain conduct.
He then told Zimba to proceed with his response bearing in mind they were in court to dispense justice.
“We ought to distinguish ourselves from members of the public because our duty first is to the court for the purpose of dispensing justice,” magistrate Malumani said.
He ordered the four police officers who were standing behind the bar to move away.
The state then proceeded to respond, justifying that the police in court were orderlies who were supposed to maintain order.
Magistrate Malumani stood the matter for 30 minutes and summoned to his chambers Malambo and two senior defence lawyers together with Zimba and the two deputy advocates who joined him today.