MAYHEM characterised the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court grounds yesterday when police officers rearrested Lusaka Province UPND chairman Obvious Mwaliteta and his co-accused James Sichomba.
Confusion erupted after UPND cadres attempted to prevent police from apprehending the accused persons after the state discontinued the matter in which the duo was accused of being found in possession of offensive weapons.
When the matter came up before Lusaka magistrate Alice Walusiku, state prosecutor Christopher Nyambe told the court that the state had decided to enter a nolle prosequi in the matter.
“We have decided to discontinue the case in pursuant to section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to allow the State to put its house in order,” submitted Nyambe.
However, the accused’s counsel Zevyanji Sinkala made an application to have the matter referred to the Lusaka High Court for constitutional reference.
“We caused to be filed this morning a notice of motion for constitutional reference pursuant to Article 28(2a) of the Constitution. My expectation is that the state should respond to our application. They are making an application on top of another when they ought to respond to the application I have made,” said Sinkala.
But magistrate Walusiku threw out Sinkala’s application because it had no room in her court.
“The case was for the state and it was earlier guided on by the court and since there is a ruling by the High Court that the matter be tried in Kafue, this court was inclined to that ruling and as such the state was to make an appropriate application which has been made this morning that the case will be withdrawn under Section 88 of the CPC for them to put their house in order,” she ruled.
“Therefore, this application by the defence has no place in this court because already I guided and I do not know why I should continue guiding on a case that has already been decided upon by the High Court. Therefore, the application by the defence cannot be entertained because the case has no place in this court as guided by the High Court. It is for this reason that I grant the application by the state to have the charge withdrawn against the accused persons under section 88 of the CPC, the accused persons are discharged”.
Immediately the accused walked out of court, plain clothed police officers surrounded Mwaliteta and Sichomba but unruly cadres tried to whisk the two away, resulting in running battles with the police.
Police officers had to use Tasers and fire more than five live rounds using AK47 rifles, while one of the officers hurled insults in order to disperse the crowd.
After the accused were driven away, an officer who remained behind escaped lynching as the cadres stoned him.
One of the UPND youths sustained a broken arm during the commotion and this did not go well with Lusaka Province party chairlady Grace Chivube.
“Ba Lungu mutipaye na njala, mutipaye na mfuti tikalibe kunkala na independce, onani uyu mwana wanga atyoka kwanja nichani kansi what has Mwaliteta done?” lamented Chivube.
Last Thursday, police officers detained and later released Mwaliteta and Sichomba after the court adjourned the matter, as they had anticipated that the state would enter a nolle prosequi in the case.
The adjournment was owing to the absence of the accused defence counsel Zevyanji Sinkala.
However, before the vehicle carrying Mwaliteta could reach Lusaka Central Correctional Facility, commonly known as Chimbokaila, a senior officer directed that the accused be brought back upon realising that the matter had been adjourned and a nolle prosequi had not been entered.
“Who gave you those instructions? Come back. I didn’t give you those instructions. The matter has been adjourned,” the officer said on phone.
In this matter, Mwaliteta and Sichomba on March 27, 2019 during the Kafue council chairperson by-election jointly and whilst acting together allegedly possessed offensive weapons or materials namely two improvised machetes, a hoe, one wooden pick handle, two stones and a knife, without lawful excuse.
The case has since been referred to Kafue where the matter will be tried as it is the right jurisdiction where the offence was allegedly committed.