Magistrate threatens to discharge Kambwili over ‘absentee’ prosecutors

PRINCIPAL resident magistrate Mwaka Mikalile has warned the State that she will discharge Chishimba Kambwili and his co-accused so that the State can take back the matter to court whenever it is ready to prosecute.

This is in a matter where Kambwili, his son Mwamba, two Zambia Revenue Authority officials Lukwesa Musonda and Mulenga Kapilima and Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services Limited are facing charges of possessing more than K6 million, preparing a false document, obtaining pecuniary advantage and uttering a false document.

The warning is owing to the absence of State prosecutors of the Anti-Corruption Commission before court.

When the matter came up, the state prosecutors were absent to which Kambwili’s lawyer Christopher Mundia raised concern that there was no reason advanced to them with regards to the absence of the State before court.

“You will note on record that two and half years of commencement of this matter, only six witnesses have testified. The matter has been characterised by lack of progress. It’s unacceptable that there is absolutely no appetite to prosecute this matter. The least the State would have done is to send an emissary to give proper reasons as to why they must not proceed today,” Mundia said. “Three of the accused are ordinarily residents of the Copperbelt Province and they have to travel to be present before court. The same way the State is entitled to justice is the same way the accused are entitled to justice through a speedy and fair trial. We leave it to the court’s wisdom to guide.”

Magistrate Mikalile, who was angered by the State’s behaviour, urged both parties to take the matter seriously.

“I’m abhorred by the behaviour of the prosecution’s counsel. We have not made any progress. This matter commenced on March 26, 2018. It is unacceptable that only six witnesses have testified. But the cause of adjournments is from both sides,” magistrate Mikalile said. “I expect both sides to be serious and take this matter with the seriousness it deserves. I will not hesitate to invoke section 199 of the CPC so that the State may restart the matter when they are ready.”

She further warned the accused that she would curtail their freedom if any of them absconds court sessions in future.

“If any of the accused stay away, I will issue a warrant of arrest. The matter is adjourned to Friday for mention and fixing of trial date,” said magistrate Mikalile.

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