The State has discontinued the case against one of the seven court officials who are jointly charged with two businessmen for allegedly trafficking in 24 kilogrammes of cocaine that went missing under the custody of the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.
The State, however, turned Florence Mushoka, a court interpreter, into their witness immediately after entering a nolle prosequi.
Mushoka is the second person, among the accused, to be turned into a State witness since the matter was taken to court, the first being Charles Nkuwa.
Nkhuwa, a businessman at Katondo Street, was initially charged with the accused persons before the State entered a nolle prosqui in a case before another court where they were all facing three counts of drug trafficking, but was set free.
This is the matter in which Mushoka was jointly-charged with businessmen Eric Chipango, Emmanuel Chimba and court officials Emmanuel Chirwa; Bearvan Mengo; Mathews Mukanda; Victor Nzaila; O’Brian Muyunda and Didie Kangwa, a senior clerk of court, with four counts of trafficking in cocaine and two counts of theft by servant.
The accused persons are charged with one count of trafficking in 80.11 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of trafficking in 1Kg of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chimba, a businessman, and Chirwa, a court interpreter, are facing another count of trafficking in 1.5 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chirwa is also facing one more count of trafficking in 4.5 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of theft by servant where he’s alleged to have stolen 4.5 grammes of cocaine, the property of the government of Zambia.
Meanwhile, all the court officials are charged with one count of theft by servant where they are alleged to have stolen 24 kilogrammes of cocaine between August 4, 2017, and August 9, 2018, the property of the government of Zambia.
When the matter came up for continued trial before Magistrate Victoria Chitulangoma, Wednesday, State advocate Sipholiano Phiri informed Court that the State wanted to discontinue proceedings against Mushota following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“This court is informed that the State will like to discontinue the matter against A7, Florence, through a nolle prosequi and that this court should, therefore, enter into its record the said nolle prosequi,” Phiri said.
And Mushota’s lawyer Zevyanji Sinkala told the Court that he had no objection for the State to proceed in the manner that they had done, adding that he was grateful that it had taken that stance.
However, immediately after her discharge, the State called Mushota to the stand as its witness in the case.
But before Mushota could even take oath, one of the defence lawyers Keith Mweemba applied for an adjournment, saying the lawyers representing the third accused person were not in court.
He added that in the interest of justice, the defence wanted to get fresh instructions from their clients because the discharge came as a surprise to them.
“We have been ambushed! We did not foresee the application that has come. In view of this, we shall also need to seek further instructions from our clients. [The application] was so sudden, more than the speed of lightening itself. We shall be ready tomorrow (today),” Mweemba said.
The court then adjourned the matter to today for continued trial.