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11 appear in court over gassing

ELEVEN men and a male juvenile have appeared before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court indicted for allegedly being behind the chemical gassing of people’s homes and schools across the country.

The 12, aged between 15 and 45, of Chikankata, Kafue and Chingola districts are facing 15 counts of aiding, abetting, conspiracy of terrorist acts and proliferation.

The 12 are identified as Feston Mwanza, 45, a farmer of Mulawo settlement in Chikankata, Bright Halwanza, 34, a farmer of Nalwama Village in Chikankanta, Essau Zanene, 35, a farmer of Nega-Nega in Chikankanta, Tom Jabala, 43, a businessman of Kabweze in Kafue and Derrick Mwiinga, 28, a businessman of Chikankanta.

Others are a 16-year-old grade nine pupil of Nalwama in Chikankata, Jabulani Phiri, 41, a farmer of Nega-Nega in Chikankata, Osward Hamalala, 29, a farmer of Chikankata, Charles Mungaila, 32, a farmer of Chikankata, Sydney Hakalinda, 37, a businessman of Nega-Nega in Chikankanta, Elijah Mwiinga, 25, a charcoal burner of Kafue and Everisto Hamalala, 33, a folk lifter of Chingola.

The accused are Between February 1 and 29 this year alleged to have aided, abetted, concealed, procured, incited or solicited the commission of a terrorist act or proliferation.

It is alleged in the second count that the 12 on the same dates, committed a terrorist act intending to cause death or serious harm to Brenda Tembo when they released dangerous, hazardous, harmful substance, toxic chemical or other toxins in the environment.

In the third count, it is alleged that the 12 on the same dates committed a terrorist act intending to cause death or serious harm to Martha Mazaba by releasing a dangerous, hazardous, harmful substance, toxic chemicals, among other toxins, in their environment.

In the fourth count the 12 allegedly committed a terrorist act intending to cause death or serious harm to Emmanuel Lwaisha by releasing dangerous, hazardous, harmful substance, toxic chemicals, among other toxins, into the environment.

In counts five to 15, the 12 between February 1 and 29, 2020 committed a terrorist act intending to cause death or serious harm on Emmanuel Lwaisha, Memory Banda, Taonga Banda, Esther Banda, Nathan Phiri, Violent Nyirenda, Anthony Nyirenda, Caroline Zulu, Minson Zulu and Regina Phiri by releasing dangerous, hazardous, harmful substance, toxic chemicals among other toxins in their environment.

Chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale explained the charges to the accused to which they said they understood but could not take plea.

Magistrate Mwale told the 12 that the charges they were facing were only tried by the High Court and that they would be appearing before him for mention pending committal to the High Court for trial.

The accused then applied for bail pending trial but the State objected to the application.

State prosecutor Stuyvesant Malambo urged the court not to grant the accused bail as the charges they were facing were serious and for them to be secure they needed to be in custody.

“Your honour, the application should not be granted because in the past, people who were suspected to be gassing homes were being attacked by mobs.” Said Malambo

But Laston Mwanabo, who is representing Hakalinda, urged the court to grant his client bail as the State’s arguments were based on speculation.

The rest of the accused persons equally urged the court to grant them bail on grounds that they were not a security threat as their families and communities back home would welcome them if they were freed.

Magistrate Mwale has reserved ruling for the bail application for March 30.

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