LUSAKA principal resident magistrate David Simusamba says Chishimba Kambwili and his lawyers attempted to bribe him by offering money and promising to buy him a car in exchange for Kambwili’s freedom.
He says he declined the offer.
Magistrate Simusamba said Kambwili used his lawyers Christopher Mundia and Cheelo Mwiinga to wheel and deal his acquittal of the criminal charges he was facing.
This is in a matter where Kambwili, Mwiinga and Mundia have sued magistrate Simusamba for defamation on allegations that they attempted to bribe him in order to deliver judgment in favour of Kambwili in a matter where the latter was facing charges of forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to public officer.
The trio is seeking exemplary and or punitive damages for defamation of character, compensatory damages, damages for mental anguish and strain arising from the false, malicious and defamatory statements.
They also want a public retraction of the false and malicious allegations contained in a letter to the Chief Justice and an apology to them to their satisfaction in respect of all the defamatory utterances attributed to magistrate Simusamba.
In their statement of claim, Kambwili claimed that magistrate Simusamba was on a deliberate path to personally destroy him especially that he has completely refused to pay to the latter K360,000 which he demanded to secure his release.
Kambwili and his lawyers said they would provide evidence and prove that magistrate Simusamaba authored a letter to the Chief Justice between December 18, 2019 and January 22, 2020 in which he maliciously made false allegations against them in order to escape sanction from the Chief Justice, by falsely in turn accusing the complainants of corruption after Kambwili complained against him.
The NDC leader contended that he wrote a complaint letter to the office of the Chief Justice on December 17, 2019 complaining about the conduct magistrate Simusamba but instead he received a letter of response from the Chief Justice quoting verbatim the response of magistrate Simusamba to the allegations he raised.
Kambwili stated he would provide irrefutable evidence and would call witnesses to prove that he is not the first prominent politician in Zambia that magistrate Simusamba has attempted to extort huge sums of money from under the threat of a malicious conviction.
“The plaintiffs will aver at trial and call evidence that the publication by the defendant to the Honourable Chief justice has caused them embarrassment and has brought their reputations into ridicule and odium as a result of the false and malicious claims by the defendant,” the trio stated.
But magistrate Simusamba in his defence explained that Kambwili through Mundia on different dates from inception of the matter latest November 27, 2019 was contacting him on phone and physically met him, intimating that Kambwili needed help in the criminal matter by way of acquittal for which he was offered money and promised a car but he turned down the offer.
He claimed a day before he could deliver his ruling on no case to answer, Mundia made several phone calls and sent text messages to him but he ignored them.
Magistrate Simusamba disclosed that Mundia followed him to a known place in Lusaka and approached him pleading that Kambwili’s situation was a matter of life and death and that he needed an acquittal, but he again declined Mundia’s requests and advances and threatened to report him to relevant authorities if he persists.
“Mundia hanged around the known place in Lusaka where the defendant (magistrate Simusamba) was, from 21:00 hours on November 27, 2019 to around 01:00 hours on November 28, 2019 when he left the place upon realising that the defendant had emphatically declined Mundia’s offer or request,” magistrate Simusamba stated.
He stated that at all times he refused to entertain Mundia’s requests or advances and after delivering ruling at no case to answer stage on November 28, 2019 and placing Kambwili on his defence, Mundia called him saying “bakalamba mwatucita ububi (my elder you have done us bad); but we know we are in safe hands,” which was understood to mean that ruling was a blow to Kambwili.
Magistrate Simusamba stated that following the ruling, Kambwili and Mundia embarked on a series of manoeuvres, tactics, sharp practices and efforts aimed at circumventing the proceedings.
He stated that the tactics by Kambwili and his lawyers included the writing of a letter of complaint against him to the Chief Justice which resulted in the current civil proceedings.
Magistrate Simusamba further disclosed that on December 11, 2019 Mwiinga who is his personal friend and former classmate at the University of Zambia and Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) approached him indicating that Kambwili was in dire need of help and was willing to offer any amount in order to delay the final determination of case and render judgment in his favour.
He stated that he again declined the offer and directed Mwiinga to refrain from such conduct, and he stopped communicating with him.
Magistrate Simusamba charged that Kambwili’s complaint to the Chief Justice about the alleged extortionate conduct against him are within the former’s knowledge and he would put Kambwili to strict proof.
He explained that the letter from the Chief Justice and his response were confidential and the subject matter fell under absolute or qualified privilege as it arose from the execution of his duty as a magistrate.
“The defendant has no personal relationship or interest whatsoever in Kambwili’s life and has no cause or basis to destroy him in any way. The defendant was merely performing his duties as an adjudicator,” magistrate Simusamba stated.
He insisted that he enjoys judicial immunity pursuant to section 55 of the subordinate Act and no legal action can lie against him for performing his duties, adding that the said action is covered under absolute privilege.
Magistrate Simusamba argued that he was bound to respond to the Chief Justice’s letter in line with the privilege he enjoys and the content of his response to the Chief Justice was justified and correct and was not supposed to be published to third parties or the public.
He said he was not privy to any communication between Kambwili and the justice Irene Mambilima and shifted the blame on Kambwili for having published or causing to be published the confidential letter from the Chief Justice to him.
Magistrate Simusamba further indicated that he would rely on the defence of absolute or qualified privilege regarding his communication to the Chief Justice.
“The plaintiffs are not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed. Save as herein expressly admitted, the defendant denies each and every claim as if the same were set out herein and denied striatum,” said magistrate Simusamba.