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Mambo avoids prison

THE Supreme Court yesterday fined Bishop John Mambo K25,000 to be paid in seven days or serve nine months in default for contempt of court. Last year, Bishop Mambo pleaded guilty to contempt of court charges over a letter he authored and sent to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, over the Supreme Court judgment that was passed in favour of Stanbic Bank.

Savenda had appealed to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn a judgment that the High Court passed in their favour.

In his letter, Bishop Mambo stated that; “The legal suit against the bank by Savenda, though given a favourable decision at the lower court, was suspiciously overturned by the higher court on appeal. Most judges seem to be more interested in achieving personal ambitions at the expense of justice for all and equality before the law.”

The Supreme Court then cited Bishop Mambo for contempt charges and at first, he denied but later took fresh plea, admitting the charges. In purging his contempt, Bishop Mambo apologised for the contemptuous remarks contained in the letter he wrote. He said he did not mean to bring the court into disrepute or undermine its authority when he wrote the letter. Bishop Mambo said his intentions were to raise what he believed were concerns of alleged corruption with respect to the judiciary.

His legal team led by State Counsel Chifumu Banda also mitigated for him. And delivering the judgment which has been pending for several months, Supreme Court judge Gregory Phiri sitting with judges Mumba Malila, Nigel Mutuna and Roydah Kaoma said the court found the allegations by Bishop Mambo against the judiciary outrageous.

He said the Bishop wrote the letter without reading any of the three judgments of the courts relating to Savenda vs Stanbic bank. Judge Phiri said Bishop Mambo had no locus standi in the matter. He added that the false accusations against the highest court were serious because investors would not want to invest in a county where a judiciary was perceived to be corrupt.

“The fact that he is a man of God, many people would have believed that what he said about the judiciary was true,” said judge Phiri said.

“It was unwise for Bishop Mambo to make wild allegations against the judiciary instead of reporting the judges to the Judiciary Complaint Authority (JCC) so that they could be investigated and later prosecuted if they had done something wrong.”

The court then fined him K25,000 to be paid in seven days or serve nine months in jail if he defaults.

In November last year, the Supreme Court sentenced Southern Africa Network against Corruption executive director Gregory Chifire to six years simple imprisonment over four counts of contempt of court.

The court jailed Chifire in absentia as he was reportedly in South Africa where he fled to before his punishment was meted out.

And in December, the court also jailed Rainbow Newspaper editor-in-chief Derrick Sinjela 18 months for contempt..

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