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Court grants Mwaliteta K5,000 bail

OBVIOUS Mwaliteta and James Sichomba have been granted K5,000 cash bail after the charge of possession of offensive weapons was explained to them.

Meanwhile, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the country should not entertain a breakdown of the rule of law.

Mwaliteta, 48, a farmer and politician, and businessman Sichomba, 36, could, however, not take plea when they appeared before magistrate Alice Walusiku because the Director of Public Prosecutions has not yet issued consent to prosecute the case.

It is alleged that Mwaliteta and Sichomba on March 27 at Kafue jointly and whilst acting together had in their possession offensive weapons or materials; two improvised machetes, a metal hoe a wooden pick handle, two stones and knife without lawful excuse.

After reading the charge to Mwaliteta and Sichomba, they told the court they understand it.

The accused are represented by L. Mulongoti, Zevwanji Sinkala and K. Phiri.

And magistrate Walusiku granted Mwaliteta, a former Kafue member of parliament and Lusaka Province minister, and Sichomba K5,000 cash bail with two working sureties who are bound in the same amount but in their own recognisance following an application by the defence.

Magistrate Walusiku said bail was a constitutional right which in most cases must be granted if the offence was bailable.

She added that granting bail was at the discretion of the court.

Earlier, Sinkala in his application for Mwaliteta and Sichomba to be admitted to bail submitted that they were of fixed abode and as such were not a flight risk.

He said his clients would abide by ball conditions which the court would set as he was alive to the fact that bail was a discretion of court.

Sinkala also asked the court to take judicial notice of Article 18 that presumes the accused innocent.

He urged the court to consider admitting the accused to bail in their own recognisance considering that the offence was bailable.

Sinkala notified the court that his clients have been on custody for six days for reasons that the police denied them bond.

He complained that the conduct of the police was against the law and malicious.

The State prosecutor did not object.

Mwaliteta and Sichomba will appear before magistrate Walusiku on April 17 for mention as  the consent from the DPP is being awaited.

Speaking to the media after the adjournment of the matter, Hichilema who was among those that went to offer solidarity to Mwaliteta, said everybody was presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He said it was always important to only effect an arrest once an investigation has been done.

“Our colleagues have been in detention for six days, beyond the constitutional limit of 48 hours. It means the police were not ready [but] if they were not ready, why did they effect an arrest? Then it’s not prosecution; it becomes persecution,” said Hichilema. “It’s important that we begin to treat each other as citizens in a fair and civilised manner. This is jungle law! Some animals are more equal than others; but all animals should be equal before the law. As Zambians, we respect of the rule of law.”

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