The Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has granted Lusaka Province UPND Chairman Obvious Mwaliteta and his co-accused K5,000 cash bail each with two working sureties.
Mwaliteta and his co-accused, James Sichomba, have been charged with being in possession of offensive weapons namely; two machetes, a metal hoe, stones, among other items, without lawful excuse.
The duo, however, failed to take plea, Monday, when they appeared before magistrate Alice Walusiku because consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute the matter had not yet been received.
In this matter, Mwaliteta, 48, of Chawama Compound is jointly charged with Sichomba, a 36 year-old businessman of Kafue, with one count of being in possession of offensive weapons or material contrary to section 85(i) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
Particulars of the offence allege that on March 27, this year, in Kafue district of Lusaka Province, the duo jointly and whilst acting together, had in their possession offensive weapons or materials namely; two improvised machetes, a metal hoe, one wooden pick handle, two stones and a knife, without lawful excuse.
Mwaliteta was arrested by Police in Kafue on March 27 during the Kafue District Council Chairperson by-election.
And when the matter came up for possible plea, the State informed the court that consent from the DPP to prosecute the matter had not yet been received.
Magistrate Walusiku then read the charge to the accused persons and explained to them that they would not take plea because the court had not yet received consent from the DPP.
At this point, the accused’ lawyer, Zevyanji Sinkala, applied for bail pending trial saying the accused persons were of fixed abode and as such would endevour to abide by the bail conditions set by the Court.
He urged the court to admit the accused persons on bail in their own recognizance, noting that the duo had been in custody for six days because the police had denied them bond.
“Your honour, we urge you to admit them on bail in their own recognizance bearing in mind that the offence is bailable. The accused have been in custody for six days because the police had refused to admit them on bail/bond,” Sinkala said.
The State did not object to the defence’s application for bail.
Magistrate Walusiku then granted Mwaliteta and Sichomba cash bail of K5,000 each, with two working sureties in the like sum but in their own recognizance.
She then adjourned the matter to April 17, for mention awaiting consent from the DPP to prosecute the matter.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo, Chilanga Parliamentary loosing candidate Charmaine Musonda among others; went to offer solidarity to Mwaliteta and his co-accused.
And speaking after the court case, Hichilema reiterated that Zambia should not entertain a break down in the rule of law, noting that Mwaliteta and Sichomba had been in detention for six days, beyond the Constitutional limit of 48 hours.
“This country should not entertain break down in the rule of law. Everybody is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And it is always important to only effect an arrest when investigations have been done. Our colleagues have been in detention for six days, beyond a Constitutional limit of 48 hours. It means that the police were not ready. If they were not ready, why did they effect an arrest? Then its not prosecution, it becomes persecution,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hichilema said citizens should be treated fairly, observing that non of the PF cadres in Sesheke who were found with pangas were detained or taken to court.
“It is also important that we begin to treat each other as citizens in a fair and civilised manner. This whole thing of detaining people, PF cadres in Sesheke were found with pangas [but] non of them were detained, non of them was taken to court. We must treat each citizen fairly. That is the duty of those who occupy public office, to respect the rule of law,” said Hichilema.