TWO soldiers accused of conspiring to murder former president Rupiah Banda and special assistant to the president for politics Kaizar Zulu have dragged Zulu to court seeking an order that he be committed to prison for contempt of court.
Steven Phiri and Steven Chiiba Chooka have asked the Lusaka High Court to cite Zulu for contempt of court for commenting on the matter in which they are facing charges of conspiracy to murder and unlawful possession of National Registration Cards, which is still active before court.
This comes after Zulu commented on the matter on a Diamond TV programme dubbed Coaster.
The two, who are appearing before High Court judge Mwaba Chanda, between June 30 and August 8, 2017, allegedly conspired to murder Zulu and Banda.
It is also alleged that on August 8, 2017, the duo unlawfully had in their possession eight National Registration Cards (NRCs) belonging to other persons.
In their summons for leave to apply for an order of committal for contempt of court, Phiri and Chooka said that on November 27, 2019 Zulu made utterances and used speech that was in breach of the rules of the court when he featured on a Diamond TV Programme dubbed “Coasta”, which was broadcast to the general public across the nation from about 21:00 hours.
They said that during the programme, the alleged contemnor (Zulu) made remarks that were subjudice and prejudicial to the proceedings before court.
“In response to a question as to whether he had ever fired a gun to protect himself, the alleged contemnor responded in the affirmative,” they said.
Phiri and Chooka said that Zulu was quoted saying; “There are the two military officers who the police
actually arrested. They actually drove to my house. They had two targets, myself and former president Rupiah Banda. Was it necessary for me to fire with these trained marksmen or to let me die?”
They stated that Zulu further alleged that his life was under threat.
Phiri and Chooka contended that the words uttered by Zulu were aimed at portraying them as being guilty of a crime in the eyes of the general public, including in the eyes of potential witnesses that were yet to give evidence before court, be it for the prosecution or for the defence.
“In particular, since the alleged contemnor is the purported victim of an alleged conspiracy to murder him by the accused persons, the serious allegations made by him (Zulu) during the programme to the effect that two military officers ‘drove to his place’ and made an attempt on his life which caused him to fire his gun in self defence is not only subjudice but also prejudicial against the accused persons as it casts them as assassins or cold blooded killers in the eyes of the general public including in the eyes of potential witnesses before this honourable court,” the two said.
“Following the nationwide broadcast of the programme, the accused persons have received numerous queries by telephone and in person from various people, including members of their families and fellow soldiers expressing concern that they did not know the truth about the case pending before this honourable court and condemning the accused persons for allegedly acting in the manner described by the alleged contemnor during the Programme.”
The accused contended that some of the witnesses that they could have called in their defence in the event that they were found with a case to answer by the court have expressed skepticism about doing so following utterances made by the alleged contemnor during the programme.
Phiri and Chooka said that the utterances of Zulu were contemptuous of the court and the proceedings.
The duo said the substantive matter was still active before court as the prosecution was yet to close its case and a determination yet to be made by the court on whether or not they had a case to answer and accordingly whether or not they are to be put on their defence in respect of the said charge of conspiracy to murder Zulu.
Phiri and Chooka said the rules of court prohibit any person from making any utterances relating to the matters pending determination in such a way as to be prejudicial to their interests and the course of justice in such a way meant to interfere with the course of justice.
They said the words amount to intentional disrespect to the substantive proceedings which were pending before court as they were uttered by Zulu knowing fully well that the proceedings were pending determination before court.
“The words were calculated to interfere with the course of justice or to prejudice the course of justice in so far as the alleged contemnor set out to make allegations of fact as to what the accused persons are alleged to have or not have done in relation to the charge of conspiracy to murder, which is pending determination before this honourable Court,” said Phiri and Chooka.
“The relief sought is for an order that Kaizer Zulu be committed to prison for contempt of court having regard to the foregoing.”