Magistrate frees air traffic controller of defamation of Lungu

THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has acquitted as air traffic controller, Trevor Mwila, who was accused of saying that President Edgar Lungu would die in two years if he (President) did not resign.

Principle resident magistrate Mwaka Mikalile said that Mwila did not utter the alleged defamatory words.

This is in a matter in which Mwila was facing a charged of defamation of the President.

Mwila was on June 30, 2019 accused of publishing a defamatory statement by word of mouth to the effect that “tell your President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to resign or else he is dying in two years time because he is sick and as my child, I see him everyday”, with intent to bring his name into hatred, contempt and ridicule.

In her judgement, magistrate Mikalile said the statement uttered by Mwila was that “ifintu muli ba Lungu nafi shupa, kuwayawaya fye (things under President Lungu have become difficult, one cannot do anything meaningful)”.

During trial, a state witness, Irene Kapijimpanga, had told the court that during a drinking spree at a named bar, a Mr Banda, who she knew from way back walked in and they embraced each other.

The witness said Banda asked her if she was the owner of the vehicle which was covered with a Patriotic Front chitenge to which she affirmed and added that she was a supporter of President Lungu.

Kapijimpanga said whilst catching up with Banda, Mwila went and sat next to her, indicating that he had heard her support Lungu.

She said Mwila implored her to ask the President to resign failure to which he would die in two years.

“If you look at him, you don’t see that he is a very sick man? I see him dying in two years because he is my child, I see him everyday,” Mwila allegedly said.

Kapijimpanga claimed that all the patrons in the bar became quiet as Mwila was allegedly speaking on top of his voice and she was offended with his alleged remarks.

But in his defence, Mwila denied uttering the alleged defamatory words, saying he told Kapijimpanga that things were hard in Lungu’s regime while giving a K320 to a lady who demanded money from him for her company while he was drinking beer.

Mwila said he only came to know that the lady was a sex worker after Kapijimpanga disclosed to him.

Magistrate Mikalile said there was nothing wrong with the statement as times were indeed really hard.

She said the words uttered by Mwila did not amount to vulgar or insulting language and neither could they lead to disturbance of order.

She said that there was nothing, excluding the danger of false implication, because Kapijimpanga, a PF sympathiser and Mwila’s arresting officer, had a relationship.

Magistrate Mikalile indicated that citizens were entitled to criticise the President but it should not turn into insulting or vulgar language.

Speaking after his was acquitted, Mwila accused the police of being unprofessional for arresting him because he was framed.

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