The Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has acquitted seven Natural Resources Development College (NRDC) students who were arrested for malicious damage to property during a riot.

The seven, Peter Tembo, 21, Peter Mwenya, 22, Benjamin Musonda, 23, Jacob Mpepo, 22, Given Nyimbili, 24, Sokoni Mahone, 20, and James Fusankolo, 21, were acquitted after the complainant, NRDC registrar Manda Sinkala decided to withdraw the case in court saying they wanted to handle the matter administratively.

It was alleged that on August 20, 2018, in Lusaka, the seven students jointly and whilst acting together, willfully and unlawfully damaged two hostel window panes and a rear window screen of a motor vehicle registration number BAD 1122, properties which belonged to the institution, all valued at K13,500.

When the matter came up for plea before magistrate Mwandu Sakala, Thursday, the seven students denied having committed the offence.

And addressing the court, NRDC registrar Manda Sinkala, 46, said the college had decided to withdraw the matter so that it could be handled adminstratively.

“After extensive consultation from stakeholders, we wish to withdraw the matter so that we handle the matter administratively. This is in consideration that we are dealing with students and we feel that the option of handling it administratively will be more convenient for all parties,” said Sinkala.

After the application, the State applied to have the complaint withdrawn.

The defence lawyers did not object to the application.

They however added that once a complaint was withdrawn, the next step was to acquit the accused persons in compliance with the law under the provision of section 201 of the CPC.

In her ruling, Magistrate Sakala granted the state the application to withdraw the case and acquitted the seven.

“In accordance with section 201 of the CPC, I hereby grant the application by the registrar to withdraw the matter and hereby acquit all seven accused persons. They are free to go,” she ruled.

And speaking after the court session, one of the accused persons, Given Nyimbili, said he was grateful to God for being set free.

He urged his fellow students to avoid finding themselves in such situations.

“I just thank God for everything. I urge my fellow students to avoid finding themselves in this situation and refrain from such (acts),” said Nyimbili.