LUSAKA High Court judge Pixie Yangailo has threatened to throw out the matter in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others have sued the state demanding compensation for false imprisonment on allegations that they committed treason when his convoy allegedly failed to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade on the Mongu-Limulunga road in April 2017.
According to a July 2021 notice, judge Yangailo has indicated that she will strike out the matter from the active cause list within seven days if Hichilema and others do not take any step.
The matter which was commenced in May this year has been dormant due to failure by the state to file its defence.
However, the court has faulted the plaintiffs over the state’s delay.
“Take notice that pursuant to Order 19 Rule 8 of the High Court (Amendment) Rules, 2020, this matter shall be dismissed if no action is taken by the plaintiffs within seven days from the date of this order,” said judge Yangailo.
In this matter, Hichilema, Hamusonde Hamaleka, Pretorius Haloba, Wallace Chakawa, Laston Mulilanduba and Muleya Hachinda want the Lusaka High Court to compel the state to indemnify them damages equivalent in value to the money and personal belongings lost when they were apprehended at Hichilema’s home in new Kasama.
Hichilema is seeking compensation for the money he lost and property that was looted, damaged and destroyed at his home four years ago during the unlawful operation to arrest him on April 10 and 11, 2017.
The six have cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter.
In their statement of claim, Hichilema and five others, who are part-time staff of the UPND, said that on April 10, 2017 between 20:00 and 21:30, a battalion of police officers wrongfully and forcefully gained entry to Hichilema’s home without his consent, warrant and justification, in an operation to arrest the latter which lasted until April 11.
The UPND leader contended that the police officers, notable among them Mpazi Mbita, Arthur Shonga, Martin Musambachime and Aubrey Hamwene, who raided his home extensively damaged and destroyed various fixtures, fittings and furniture.
He disclosed that the police officers ransacked his house and stole his money, food, clothes, bedding and other household items in disregard of the law, his dignity and that of the family.
Hichilema contended that some among the police officers wantonly defecated and urinated on his beddings in his house.
Hamaleka, Haloba and Chakawa, who were Hichilema’s guests on the said date were apprehended by masked police officers without being given a reason for their apprehension.
The three were brutalised and tear gassed by police officers and subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.
They said UPND members of parliament and other sympathisers who went to show solidarity to Hichilema were equally beaten, tear gassed, and some were apprehended and taken to Woodlands police station.
The plaintiffs stated that they sustained soft tissue injuries, temporary loss of hearing, inflamed and painful eyes and private parts, sore throats, chest pains, mental anguish and anxiety and had difficulties in breathing.
Hichilema, Hamaleka, Chakawa, Mulilabduba and Hachinda stated that they were jointly charged with treason, disobeying lawful orders and statutory duty while Haloba was not told the reason for his detention.
The complainants said charges of disobeying lawful and statutory orders were dropped by the state by way of nolle prosequi between May and June 2017.
“On August 14,2017 the state maliciously laid an amended information before the High Court against the plaintiffs of treason contrary to section 43(1)(d) of the penal code,” the plaintiffs stated.
“On August 14, the plaintiffs took fresh plea on the charge of treason and all of them denied the charge. On August 16, 2017, the appointed date for commencement of trial, the state terminated proceedings against all the plaintiffs citing Article 180(7) of the Constitution and the plaintiffs were released.”
Hichilema and others contended that their prosecution and the unsanitary and inhuman conditions they were subjected to during their detention exposed them to humiliation and disgrace as well as brought them into ridicule and contempt both in Zambia and internationally.
“The plaintiffs will aver that they were wrongly imprisoned and deprived of their liberty, they were maliciously prosecuted, greatly injured in their credit, character, reputation and they suffered considerable mental and body pain, anguish, considerable trouble, inconvenience, anxiety and expense that they have been greatly injured in their business and they have suffered loss and damage,” they said.
Hichilema, Hamaleka, Haloba,Chakawa, Mulilanduba and Hachinda said particulars of malice were that the treason charge lacked overt acts as it was not thoroughly investigated.
The complainants added that the admission by the state that the charge of treason was bad at law while insisting to prosecute them was malicious, an abuse of the criminal justice process and injurious on their dignity.
Hichilema and his aides further want a recompense for unlawful detention, unlawful prosecution, assault and battery, special damages for loss of income during the entire period of their incarceration, and damages for injury.
They also want damages for trespassing, loss of use of motor vehicles, a Toyota Hilux ALZ 2757 and ALZ 2710, for 34 days when they were in detention among other reliefs.