Judge Mikalile recuses herself from Kambwili, Simusamba defamation case

HIGH Court judge Mwaka Mikalile has withdrawn from handling the case in which Chishimba Kambwili and his former lawyers Cheelo Mwiinga and Christopher Mundia have sued Lusaka High Court family and children’s division registrar David Simusamba for defamation.

Judge Mikalile in a memorandum addressed to the High Court judge-in-charge said she has declared interest in the matter.

“I do hereby declare interest in the matter and recuse myself,” said judge Mikalile.

Kambwili, Mwiinga and Mundia have dragged Simusamba to court for alleging that they attempted to bribe him in order to deliver judgment in favour of Kambwili in a matter where the latter was convicted on charges of forgery and uttering a false document.

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 Simusamba.

In their statement of claim, Kambwili claimed that Simusamba was on a deliberate path to personally destroy him, especially that he had 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 Simusamba 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.

Kambwili stated that he would provide irrefutable evidence and call witnesses to prove that he was not the first prominent politician in Zambia that Simusamba had 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 said.

But Simusamba in his defence said Kambwili and his lawyers attempted to bribe him by offering him money and promised to buy him a car in exchange for Kambwili’s freedom but he declined the offer.

He said Kambwili used his lawyers Christopher Mundia and Cheelo Mwiinga to wheel and deal his acquittal of the criminal charges he was facing.

Simusamba explained that Kambwili, through Mundia, on different dates from inception of the matter on 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 (magistrate Simusamba) 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 (Simusamba) but he ignored them.

The defendant 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 he needed an acquittal, but he again declined Mundia’s requests and advances and threatened to report him to relevant authorities if he persisted.

“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,” said magistrate Simusamba.

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 placed Kambwili in his defense, Mundia called him and said “bakalamba mwatucita ububi (my elder you have done us bad); but we know we are in safe hands,” which was understood to mean that the ruling was a blow to Kambwili.

Magistrate Simusamba said following the ruling, Kambwili and Mundia embarked on a series of maneuvers, tactics, sharp practices and efforts aimed at circumventing the proceedings.

He 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 favor.

He stated that he again declined the offer and directed Mwiinga to refrain from such conduct, and he stopped communicating with him.

“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,” stated Simusamba.

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