Kabwata Ward Six councillor Longa Chiboboka has narrated in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court how a mob allegedly disrupted Kabwata PF member of parliament Given Lubinda’s Kabwata market tour although he conceded that he didn’t see anyone attack or grab the latter.
And Lubinda’s professional assistant Paulson Tembo has also narrated how the parliamentarian was allegedly hit on the right side of the head by a man who was part of the crowd which disrupted the said tour.
The two were testifying in a matter in which five Patriotic Front supporters are accused of assaulting and proposing violence against Lubinda, who is also Minister of Justice.
Martin Mambwe, a 38-year-old driver of Kalingalinga is charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Mambwe is also jointly charged with businessmen, Patrick Mubanga, 40, of Zambia Railways area behind Intercity Bus Terminus; Major Chansa, 35, of Misisi; Moses Mulenga, 35, and Goodson Mwange, 45, of John Laing, with proposing violence or breaches of the law to assemblies.
In count one, it is alleged that Mambwe on July 12, this year, assaulted Given Lubinda, thereby occasioning him actual bodily harm.
And in count two, it is alleged that on the same date, Mambwe, Mwange, Mubanga, Mulenga and Chansa whilst acting together, proposed violence to Given Lubinda by saying “we will beat you next time you step your foot in Kabwata Market”.
The five had denied the charges and were granted cash bail of K5,000 each, with two working sureties bound in a sum of K10,000.
When the matter came up before Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale for continued trial, Wednesday, Chiboboka, 40, of Kabwata Site and Service, testified that two days prior to July 12, Lubinda’s professional assistant Pualson Tembo notified him of his impending tour to the ward on July 12.
Chiboboka told the court that Lubinda specifically wanted to interact with marketeers.
“I was thereby directed to inform the concerned stakeholders, the market master by the name of Nora Kayombo. I was also to inform the constituency chairman for PF and I did inform those people,” he said.
Chiboboka said on July 12, the minister arrived at 15:00 hours and they received him at Kabwata Community Hall.
He said after receiving him, they proceeded to walk into Kabwata Market and used the entrance opposite Kabwata Police Station which is in Burma Road.
Chiboboka said they proceeded to interact with the marketeers as per program.
“At that point, I was almost at arms length (with Lubinda) in terms of proximity,” he said.
The witness said they continued with the interaction until they stopped at a certain shop where Lubinda was engaged by one of the traders selling in the shop.
Chiboboka said the interaction lasted for about seven to 10 minutes.
“The woman was in the shop facing the minister and his entourage,” he said.
Chiboboka said it was at that point that a mob emerged from the western side of the market and interrupted the interaction which Lubinda was having with marketeers.
Chiboboka said he remembers seeing a minimum of two people who were clad in masks, adding that the situation became volatile and everyone scampered.
He said he also retreated from the scene by about few meters and tried to observe what was going on.
Chiboboka said the mob kept kicking objects and shouting “get out of the market you are wasting time”.
“At some point, the minister’s ADC removed a weapon and tried to scare away the mob,” he said.
Chiboboka said after a short time, the minister’s entourage, himself, and some marketeers managed to regroup and started going to Kabwata Police Station to report the fracas.
“The minister looked shaken and frightened. He looked a bit reddish in the face. When we reached the police, we hinted to the police officers about the incident that happened in the market. And some officers were dispatched to the scene. The report was that we had been attacked while touring the market,” he said.
In cross examination by the accuseds’ lawyer, Chiboboka said he wasn’t attacked himself and he did not see anyone attack or grab Lubinda.
He also said he did not know if any of the accused persons were part of the said mob.
Meanwhile, Paulson Tembo, 31, who is Lubinda’s professional assistant, narrated that on the material day while Lubinda was interacting with one of the marketeers, he saw two men coming from the Western side of the market.
“When coming, one man was uttering words in Bemba saying ‘tapali efyo ulelanda fuma muno'(there’s nothing that you are saying, get out of here). After seeing that he was directing those words to the member of parliament as he was charging towards him, the ADC came in to separate the man from the member of parliament,” he said.
Tembo told the court that when the said man was pushed, he saw a group of people coming from the western side of the market.
He said he remembers seeing two men with masks, one clad in PF regalia.
Tembo testified that others, who were holding chains and wooden planks, tried to pull Lubinda whilst chanting in Bemba that “Given Lubinda you have turned against the party”.
He said seeing that the said people were pulling Lubinda, the ADC went and removed him from the crowd.
Tembo said when they started moving towards the southern direction, the crowd was still chanting the same words, insulting and chasing Lubinda out of the market.
Tembo narrated that as soon as they took a few steps, he saw a tall, dark man from the crowd running towards Lubinda from behind and hit him on the right side of the head as the minister tried to look behind.
Tembo said at that point, Lubinda’s ADC pushed the assailant away.
“After we moved, the ADC removed a gun and that’s how the crowd moved a little behind and started kicking things. That’s how we managed to leave the market,” the witness said.
Tembo identified the first accused, Mambwe, as the one who hit the minister.
He said from there, they went to Kabwata police station to report the matter but added that as they were going, Lubinda’s right side of the face was red in color.
After the matter was adjourned to November 27, the PF supporters were seen outside the court premises carrying placards and saying they wanted peace and reconciliation with the minister.