The Lusaka Magistrate’s Court has adjourned to May 31 a case in which PF cadre Chanoda Ngwira has sued News Diggers for allegedly misrepresenting facts in a court case involving Ronald Chitotela, and for alleging that the Infrastructure Development minister is a criminal.
The matter came up for plea on Friday, but lawyers from Makebi Zulu Advocates who are representing the complainant, asked for an adjournment.
In this case, Ngwira wants court reporter Zondiwe Mbewe, Editor-In-Chief Joseph Mwenda and News Diggers to be tried and prosecuted for committing a criminal offence through the publication of an article, as first, second and third accused respectively.
According to the indictment, particulars of the offence are that on dates unknown but some time on or around 21st and 23rd of march 2019, Zondiwe Mbewe, Joseph Mwenda and News Diggers did cause to be published an article entitled “China Habour sent $299,985 to Chitotela’s lawyers, $140,000 went to
lungu C – FNB tells court” while proceedings involving the case of The People Vs Ronald Chitotela and four others were going on and active before Honourable Simusamba making use of the statement by the witness and bank statement, which publication was meant to misrepresent the proceedings before the said court and prejudice the accused persons and were calculated to lower the authority of the court before which proceedings were being taken, without excuse or lawful authority for doing such an act.”
Appearing before Magistrate Thandose Chabala, Friday, former Attorney General Musa Mwenye State Counsel, Chisuwo Hamwela from Nchito and Nchito and Probby Shambulo from Mwenye & Mwitwa Advocates who are representing the newspaper, told the court that the accused persons were ready to take plea.
However, the complainant’s lawyer Daina Kapitolo applied for an adjournment before the accused persons could take plea. She added that senior counsel for the complainant, Jonas Zimba, was attending another matter in Livingstone, and as such the case needed to be stood down.
Kapitolo asked the court to adjourn the matter to May 31, much to the surprise of the Court. When Magistrate Chabala asked the prosecution team to set dates for mention, the lawyer submitted that it was not necessary as the accused had not yet taken plea.
The accused persons’ lawyers did not object to the adjournment, and the Court set Friday May 31 as date for plea.