There was drama at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court on Thursday when overzealous plain-clothed policemen apprehended Lusaka Province UPND chairman Obvious Mwaliteta and his co-accused on assumption that the state had entered a nolle prosequi in their case.
Immediately Mwaliteta and James Sichomba emerged from the courtroom, they were apprehended by plain-clothed officers and loaded onto a police vehicle which was Kafue-bound.
The two were only rescued after some senior police officers ordered the police motor vehicle to come back upon realising that the state had not entered a nolle and in fact, it had been adjourned to a later date.
Particulars of the offence in this matter allege that on March 27, this year, in Kafue district of Lusaka Province, Mwaliteta and Sichomba 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 and Sichomba were arrested by Police in Kafue on March 27 during the Kafue District Council Chairperson by-election.
And at the last hearing, Lusaka Magistrate Alice Walusiku directed the State to make a necessary application, objecting to the move to take the matter back for reallocation after the High Court ruled that it should be tried in Kafue.
But when the matter came up, Monday, the State applied that the matter be adjourned to Monday because the accuseds’ lawyer, Zevyanji Sinkala, was not before court.
However, the moment Mwaliteta left the court room with his daughters and sympathisers, plain-clothed police officers approached the accused persons and started walking besides them, heading to the car park.
And when Mwaliteta’s co-accused Sichomba, was questioned on what was going-on, he also expressed shock that the officers wanted to re-arrest them when the matter had merely been adjourned to Monday.
“The case has been adjourned to May 13 because our counsel had another case at the High Court. Now to our surprise, police officers are behind us, following us [then] we are told that they want to re-arrest us, for unknown reason. We don’t know where Zambia is going,” he said.
Shortly after that, Mwaliteta was ushered into a white police van which was parked near the holding cell, waiting for the accused.
Once in the vehicle, Mwaliteta said “I don’t know what’s happening”, as his daughters and sympathisers wondered why he was being arrested when the matter had simply been adjourned and demanded to know where he was being taken.
“Daddy what are you doing in that car when your case has been adjourned? On what grounds are they picking you? The case has been adjourned where are you taking him? They will not run the country without laws,” his daughters said in anger.
In response, one of the officers said he was being taken to Kafue.
A few minutes later, after the vehicle had left the court premises, one of the senior officers in panic phoned the officers and directed them to bring the accused people back to court upon realizing that the matter had merely been adjourned.
“Who gave you those instructions? Bring him back now! I didn’t give you those instructions the matter has just been adjourned,” said the officer on the phone.
After Mwaliteta was brought back, the officer was heard telling him to go home as his case had been adjourned to Monday.
But before he could leave the premises, Mwaliteta said he would probably be re-arrested on Monday, adding that there were too many instructions which were been given to harass and intimidate him.
“The state was supposed to discontinue this matter and re-arrest me. This case has been adjourned to Monday. So probably, I will be arrested again on Monday. It’s like there are too many instructions coming to harass me, to intimidate me. I don’t know what’s going on in our country,” said Mwaliteta.
And Kafue UPND member of parliament Miriam Choonya, who had also gone to offer solidarity, wondered why the party members couldn’t be left to live in peace.
“Why? By-elections come, its always quiet everywhere. Why should Kafue become a case now where we must be coming to court every time after a by-election. Didn’t they win? Why can’t they allow us to live in peace? This is not okay,” said Choonya.
The matter comes up on May 13.