LUSAKA civil servant Beatrice Mulenga who is one of eight public service workers who signed bail for four Chinese who were charged with possession of counterfeit automated teller machines (ATM) cards but jumped bail has asked the High Court to review the five months jail term slapped on her for contempt of court.
Lusaka magistrate Sylvia Munyinya recently sentenced Beatrice Mulenga, Alick Muwana, an office assistant, Kambinga Wachaza, a mechanic, Clement Tembo, office assistant, Grace Mwamba, stenographer, Alisha Bwalya, a registry clerk, Patrick Tembo, an assistant officer, and two others for contempt of court after the Chinese whom they had signed bail for as sureties jumped bail.
Magistrate Munyinya jailed the eight sureties five months each and ordered them to pay the K20,000 each, which was in their own recognisance on condition that the accused were presented in court whenever needed.
The Ministry of Works and Supply has since written the Magistrate s’ Court requesting a copy of the judgement relating to Bwalya’s conviction and sentence to help them take necessary administrative action.
Fang Hua ping, 44, Yu Fei, 36, both businessmen, Zhuang Wei, 35, a contractor and Luo Tao, an interior designer from Kamwala South, were charged with six counts of unauthorised access to intercept data and being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It was alleged that Yu and Zhuang in Lusaka had in their possession 20 ATM cards with intentions to unlawfully utilise them.
In another count, Fang and Zhuang on dates unknown but between January 1, 2015 and April 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed K40,000 in a Barclays Bank account, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The four accused were granted K15,000 cash bail each with two sureties each working in public service,who were bound in K20,000 sums.
Following the disappearance of the accused, magistrate Munyinya convicted the eight sureties for contempt of court and sent them to prison for five months.
She also ordered them to pay the K20,000, adding that if they failed to do so, they would be required to serve another six months in prison.
But Mulenga has asked the Lusaka High Court to review her conviction for contempt of court.
She submitted that she was a co-surety for Luo Tao.
She stated that she was confident that Luo would not fail to appear in court as his passport was before the clerk of court.
Mulenga submitted that Luo allegedly run away and she was hopeful that the court would only order her to pay the K20,000 but that she was also convicted for contempt of court and was sentenced to five months.
She stated that she believes failure to bring an accused person to court does not amount to contempt of court.
Mulenga added that even if it was contempt, the same was not committed in the face of the court and should not have been dealt with in the manner the lower court did.
Mulenga wants the court to review the correctness, legality or propriety of the magistrate’s decision to jail her for contempt of court.