The Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has acquitted four UPND supporters of charges of unlawful possession of offensive weapons and materials.
The four who include; Remmy Mukoba, Kelvin Mupulisa, Fabian Lubona and Martin Muchindu, were accused of being in possession of one plastic bottle of glycerin, two plastic bottles of potassium Pamanganette, one bow and three arrows, which were found in their vehicle, but had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The four were arrested last year when their leader, Hakainde Hichilema, was incarcerated on charges of treason at Lusaka Correctional Facility.
Mukoba had given his evidence on oath, while the rest of the accused had opted to remain silent and did not call any witnesses.
And when the matter came up for judgement yesterday, magistrate Silvia Munyinya acquitted all four suspects on both counts, on grounds that the offence of possession of offensive weapons and materials was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
In the first count where the accused were charged with the possession of offensive material; potassium Pamanganette and glycerin, magistrate Munyinya said PW6 did not identify the samples which were analysed by the Lab and did not identify what he had identified as glycerin and potassium Pamanganette in court.
She added that it was therefore not clear that what the State alleged to be glycerin was glycerin, and potassium Pamanganette, potassium Pamanganette.
Magistrate Munyinya said it was not safe to conclude that glycerin and potassium Pamanganette were offensive materials.
She consequently acquitted the accused of count one upon finding that the offence was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“Therefore it cannot be said that the accused were in possession of offensive materials even if these items were found in the vehicle. For the foregoing, I find the offence for the possession of offensive materials not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Consequently, I find the accused persons not guilty and I acquit them of count one,” she ruled.
And in the second count where the accused were alleged to be in possession of a bow and arrow, magistrate Munyinya said it was clear that a bow and arrow were found in the vehicle.
She however said looking at where the bows and arrows were found in the vehicle, accused number two, three and four, who were not owners of the vehicle, could not be expected to have knowledge that there were such weapons in the vehicle.
Magistrate Munyinya further said the prosecution had not provided evidence to show that accused number two, three and four had knowledge and control of the said weapons.
She added that it could not be said that the accused persons were in possession of the bow and arrows.
Magistrate Munyinya therefore found that the offence of possession of offensive weapons was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
She consequently ruled that the accused persons not guilty and acquitted them of count two.
And speaking shortly after judgement, Hichilema who was in attendance with other party officials said he was pleased with the outcome of the case.
He, however, appealed to the judiciary to ensure that cases were quickly disposed off saying justice delayed was justice denied.
“We are pleased our young men have being discharged. Its taken long, but we appreciate the outcome of this process. We just hope that going forward, our judicial processes can be quicker. Justice delayed is justice denied. Otherwise its good that the acquittal has come through,” said Hichilema who encouraged the four supporters to remain strong and rebuild their lives.