THERE was jubilation outside Lusaka Central Prison this morning as scores of UPND members sang songs and danced following the release of their leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others who were incarcerated for treason.
Clad in party regalia and others in traditional attire, the excited crowd blocked part of the road at the prisons facility as they celebrated.
Drums were played and T-shirts wer
e distributed as the frenzy unfolded.
Others took off their shirts while others simply shed tears of joy as police officers watched.
Some male youths were heard saying “no more standing allowance for you the police, our president is out.”
And when Obvious Mwaliteta arrived, the excited youths lifted him causing panic among other members who stood far because they thought it was Hichilema who had come out.
At exactly 10:46 hours, Hichilema and five others in the company of their lawyers emerged from Lusaka Central Prison amid cheers.
The six were quickly led to a vehicle, which immediately drove off as party security personnel and later the rest of the vehicles followed the convoy.
Hichilema, who was in the company of his vice Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, could not address the media right away but said he would speak at the party secretariat.
Meanwhile, there was heavy police presence at the prison premises.
Hichilema was driven in a long convoy to the UPND secretariat along Provident Street in Fairview area.
On Nationalist road, hundreds of onlookers stood by, waving the UPND symbol.
The loyal party sympathisers did not mind the meandering route used to get to the party secretariat as they walked side by side with the vehicle carrying the opposition leader.
The presence of recently acquitted former Kafue member of parliament Obvious Mwaliteta heightened the ecstasy among party supporters.
When the convoy of people wearing mostly red – the UPND’s party colours – reached at the traffic lights on Independence Avenue near ZICTA head office, it turned towards town.
At the National Prosecutions Authority head office, a handful of onlookers peeped through to see the boisterous UPND fleet.
Curiosity from some civil servants at Cabinet Office and police headquarters was similar.
Some people used every little opening in their buildings to catch a probably memorable glimpse of Hichilema.
However, at the junction of Church Road, Chimanga Road and Independence Avenue, heavily armed police officers cordoned off Independence Avenue.
The convoy, as planned, used Church road, through Southern Sun, Taj Pamodzi Hotels and ZAMCOM Lodge before branching off into Bwinjimfumu Road.
Throughout the eventful procession, a grinning Hichilema, donned in a red shirt with a beige sweater wrapped around his neck, kept on displaying a ‘romantic’ wave to hundreds of supporters who lined up, keen to see him as a free man after a gruelling four months and five days at Lusaka Central Prison and the dreaded Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison in Kabwe.
Earlier at around 09:05 hours when the matter was called for trial before High Court judge Charles Chanda, Director of Public Prosecutions Lilian Siyunyi informed the court that she had decided to enter a nolle prosequi in respect of all the accused persons.
Your honour, at this juncture I would like to state that I am entering a nolle prosequi in respect of all the six accused persons pursuant to article 180 paragraph 7 of the Laws of Zambia,
At this moment, there was some silence in court and the defence did not object.
After a few minutes, judge Chanda told the accused persons that they were free to go home but emphasized that a nolle prosequi was not an acquittal.
Stand up accused persons. The DPP has decided to terminate this case by the powers vested in her. You are hereby discharged of this offence but this is not an acquittal, you can be re arrested,
judge Chanda said.
As soon as the judge left the courtroom, Hichilema greeted some of his members and relatives before he and others were taken back to prison for release formalities.
And Hichilema’s wife Mutinta constantly cried outside the courtroom.
She was quickly driven off without saying anything.
Hichilema, Hamusonde Hamaleka, Muleya Hachinda, Laston Mulilandula, Prestorious Haloba and Wallance Chabala were arrested on April 11, 2017 and charged with treason.
On Monday, they all pleaded not guilty to the charge and trial was expected to commence today.
Hichilema, 55, Hamusonde Hamaleka 41, Muleya Hachinda, 52, Laston Mulilanduba, 45, Pretorius Haloba, 58 and Wallace Chakawa aged 56 were alleged to have in count one, on unknown dates but between October 10, 2016 and April 8, 2017, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown prepared or endeavoured to overthrow by unlawful means the government of Edgar Lungu as by law established.