UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the Director of Public Prosecutions is abusing nolle prosequis.
Yesterday, the state entered a nolle prosequi in a case in which HH and his vice Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba were individually charged with seditious practices and jointly charged with unlawful assembly.
When the case came up for continued trial in Luanshya, one of the state prosecutors announced that the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided to discontinue the case by way of a nolle prosequi.
Ndola principal resident magistrate John Mbuzi, who was sitting in Luanshya then told the accused persons that they were free and the three charges had been discontinued.
But speaking to journalists at his house upon arrival from Luanshya, HH said he was disappointed that the DPP had entered a nolle when he knew that the case would end up in an acquittal.
“The naked truth of the matter is that an average Zambian understands that these are politically motivated charges, there’s no question about that. These are not charges based on genuine crime but based on political victimisation and oppressive maneuvers. There is an abuse of the criminal justice system. In particular, situations where police arrest citizens before they carry out investigations. And when citizens are arrested in that manner, it is clear that those citizens will be acquitted along the way by any decent magistrate or judge in any court. So because it is clear that an acquittal would come, what the state has tended to do is to enter nolles,” HH said.
He advised the DPP to beware of unprofessionalism among police before allowing prosecutions.
“Prosecution side of the criminal justice system is falling in this situation where they should not actually prosecute once the police arrest before investigations and we expect that the DPP, especially in criminal matters, would immediately advise the police not to continue with the prosecution which means individuals must be released once it is clear that there is no evidence but what happens is that the DPP allows these things to continue and when it is clear that there will be an acquittal as our case was going to be, the DPP decides to enter a nolle. It stems from the unprofessional conduct of the police arresting innocent citizens on tramped up political charges. That’s where the crisis begins,” said HH.
“One of the crimes we were alleged to have committed was stopping by the roadside to greet people. And today we were meant to have continued trial and we were looking forward to a trial but unfortunately or surprisingly the state has entered a nolle prosequi in the matter. We would have preferred an outright acquittal because we do believe that there was not crime we committed, we simply exercised our human rights and freedoms, freedom of association, assembly and movement because we were on our way to see our colleagues who were incarcerated at Kamfisa then.”
Meanwhile, GBM said the party would now focus on party mobilisation.
In count one, Hichilema was charged with seditious practices contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
It was alleged that Hichilema on September 20, in Mpongwe, conspired with other unknown people to bring into hatred, incite violence, resistance and disobedience to the administration of the elected government of Zambia by uttering words, “Nga taba mufumishe Matambo, epo ulubuli lwalatampila (If they haven’t released [Copperbelt UPND chairperson Elisha Matambo], that’s how the fight will start).”
In count two, GBM was charged with seditious practices.
It was alleged that on September 26, in Mpongwe, GBM conspired with other unknown people to bring into hatred, incite violence, resistance and disobedience to the administration of the elected government of Zambia by uttering words, “Ifwe pano ngaba UPND tulwile twakana iyi government yakwa Lungu; ngabamyeba ati kuli ama meeting yaba Lungu mulekana, pantu president wesu ni HH (As UPND, we should not recognise the government of Lungu because our president is HH)”.
In count three, the two UPND leaders were charged with unlawful assembly contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
It was alleged that on September 26 in Mpongwe, the duo jointly and whilst acting together with others unknown convened, assembled unlawfully with intent to carry out some common purpose without notifying the regulating officer.