A lawyer representing the fire tender protesters yesterday warned Lusaka Deputy Police Commissioner Geoffrey Kunda that he can be committed to prison for eight days for failing to answer questions put to him during cross examination.
And Keith Mweemba observed that it was the police who were perpetrating irregularities in Zambia, and embarrassing government in the process.
Mweemba noted that police’s decision to grant the protesters permission to carry out their peaceful demonstration last year due to security conners, turned out to be a wrong assertion because an identical protest peacefully went ahead this year.
This is the matter in which Alliance for Community Action Laura Miti, PeP president Sean Tembo, Zambia Council for Social Development executive director Lewis Mwape, Pilato, Bornwell Mwewa and Mika Mwambazi, are charged with one count of disobeying lawful orders.
The accused were nabbed outside Parliament building in Lusaka on September 29, 2017 as they were protesting the purchase of 42 fire trucks for $42 million.
When the matter came up for continuation of trial before magistrate Mwaka Mikalile, Monday, Kunda said he denied the accused persons freedom to demonstrate after a police assessment proved that the environment was not conducive for them to go ahead with the exercise.
He said he called the applicants and advised them, verbally, to come up with an alternative day because September 29 was not favorable due to security concerns and lack of man power.
Kunda said despite the advice given to the accused persons not to go ahead with the assembly, they went ahead and assembled at Parliament.
In cross examination, Kunda denied breaching the law when he advised the applicants verbally to come up with an alternative date when the law demanded that he writes to them five days before the event.
When Mweemba questioned a couple of times if the officer could admit breaking the law, Kunda insisted that he didn’t.
He however said, “if you go against what the law demands, that’s a breach.”
When reminded that it was him who should have given the applicants an alternative date and time in writing because that’s what the Public Order Act said, Kunda said there was a mutual understanding between them.
He however admitted that there was an omission on his part.
Mweemba reminded him that a person who omits to follow what the law says when he knew about it, was committing another offence.
Kunda said he had no answer.
At this point, Mweemba warned him that he could apply to commit him to prison for eight days if he refused to answer questions.
Meanwhile, Mweemba said the police’s assessment about security risk last year turned out to be wrong because the protesters managed to hold a peaceful protest this year.
He added that it was the police who were perpetrating irregularities in this country on the Public Order Act and embarrassing government in the process.
Further questioned by another defence counsel Gilbert Phiri if he had consulted anyone when making that decision last year and whether he had received any instructions from the Inspector General of Police or politicians, Kunda refuted having received any instructions stopping the activists from conducting a protest.
He said the decision was his.
“So the decision as faulty as it is was solely yours?” Phiri asked as Kunda maintained that it was.
Trial continues on November 29 and 30.