UPND Lusaka Province chairman Obvious Mwaliteta and four others have asked the High Court to enter judgment in default of defence and appearance in a case in which they sued the Attorney General claiming over K700,000 as special damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecutions. Mwaliteta, Evans Mukobela, MacMillan Shimukonka, Laswell Phiri and Emmanuel Mumbi sued the State over their arrest and prosecution for aggravated robbery from August 14, 2016 to August 8, 2017. Mwaliteta and others were accused of stealing a handbag and K350 cash from an Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) employee and further that they stole a blackberry mobile phone worth K4,000 and statements of the announcement of results (gen form 12) from agents of the ECZ. It was alleged that the robbery was committed at the ECZ offices in Longacres in Lusaka. The plaintiffs stated that there were no reasonable grounds for suspecting either that they committed the offence and stole the items.
“In the premises, the plaintiffs were falsely imprisoned by the defendant from 14th August 2016 to August 8, 2017. By the reason of the foregoing matters, the plaintiffs sustained loss and damages,” they stated.
Mwaliteta and others stated that they were maliciously prosecuted by the State and lost liberty but were acquitted at no case to answer stage following a protracted trial and were released on August 8, 2017. And the plaintiffs stated that they are entitled to claim aggravated damage and are claiming special damages in the combined sum of K768,971.00, damages for false imprisonment, damages for malicious prosecution, aggravated and exemplary damages, general damages, interest, any other relief the court might deem fit and just. According to an affidavit in support of summons for an order for leave to enter judgment against the defendant filed on March 29, 2019, Gilbert Phiri stated that he was the legal practitioner seized with conduct of the matter together with Messrs Keith Mweemba Advocates on behalf of the plaintiffs and was authorised to swear the affidavit. He stated that that the matter was commenced against the Attorney General on February 28, 2019 and they proceeded to effect service of process on the defendant on the same day. Phiri stated that the defendant has not bothered to enter appearance and defence in the matter and was, as such, in default of defence and appearance.
He stated that he undertook a search on March 28, 2019 and discovered that the defendant was still yet to enter appearance and defence. Phiri added that it was trite law that in proceedings against the defendant, no judgment in default of pleadings or defence could be entered without the leave of the court.
“In the premises, I crave the indulgence of the court to grant the plaintiffs leave to enter judgment against the defendant as it was clearly unable to file defence due to defiance of the rules of the court or has no defence on the merits of the case,” said Phiri.