A police officer has testified in the matter in which Chishimba Kambwili is charged with defamation of the President, admitting that the only person capable of ascertaining whether or not he felt injured by the alleged defamatory words was the President himself and not any other person.
The State witness, who said he holds a merit in Bemba, testified that he was asked to translate the defamatory statement allegedly issued by Kambwili in a video that went viral on social media from Bemba to English.
This is in a matter in which Kambwili is charged with defamation of the President.
Allegations are that between August 26 and 27 this year in Lusaka, Kambwili, with intent to bring the name of the President into hatred, ridicule or contempt, published an insulting matter by word of mouth.
When the matter came up for continued trial before chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale, Tuesday, Henry Mulungisha, an assistant superintendent at Lusaka Division Criminal Investigations Departyment (CID), told the court that he was Bemba and learnt the language in primary and secondary school.
“In Grade 12, I got a merit in Bemba. I know Bemba very well,” he said.
Mulungisha testified that on August 27, this year, he reported on duty at Lusaka Central Police.
He said while on duty, he was invited by a Mr Nkowani, the arresting officer in the matter, to translate a video where Kambwili was captured talking to some people in Bemba, but added the people he was talking to were not seen in the said video.
“The reason why Mr Nkowani invited me was merely for me to translate what Dr Chishimba Kambwili was saying from Bemba into English. Merely that,” Mulungisha said.
He said the words he translated were: “Noti ishi imbwa shabantu yaleikala fye ku Chawama elo yamona ste ati ntandale icalo eko baita fye kuya. Kuti washo umutengo wabunga balelwa 150 waya? Kumona fye abantu abika kuti wabula Kampyongo, ati Minister of Home Affairs? Kuti Chaba Chalo ? Ba Kaizer Zulu. Okay bane…”
“This statement in English means ‘not these people who are like dogs who used to stay in Chawama when it saw ste decides to move all over the world, whenever it is called, it goes. Can you leave the price of mealie meal [at] 150 you go? You can even see the people he appoints! How do you appoint Kampyongo as Minister of Home Affairs? Can it be a country? Ba Kaizer Zulu. Okay guys…,” Mulungisha said
He said after translating the video, he handed over the statement to the arresting officer.
In cross examination by defence lawyer Keith Mweemba, the witness admitted that the only person who can tell whether he felt injured was the President himself and not any other person.
Asked by Mweemba if “imbwa yamukali taichenjela” is a Bemba proverb and, once another person referred to as an ‘imbwa’ was “a dog”, Mulungisha said no.
The officer also admitted that President Edgar Lungu had never stayed in Chawama.
Mulingisha further admitted that Kambwili never at any point mentioned the name of the President or his title in the said statement that he translated.
Asked if the President had told him that he was aggrieved by the said words, the witness refused.
Another witness, Christine Chansa Mwansa, 55, a Director of Human Resource and Administration at Cabinet Office, testified that on September 9, 2019, she was assigned by her permanent secretary administration to provide information to the arresting officer.
She said this was following a request from Zambia Police Service who asked for information on the appointment of Stephen Kampyongo as Minister of Home Affairs, as well as Kaizer Zulu as Special Assistant to the President for Political Affairs.
“I indicated to Mr Nkowani that in Zambia, the appointment of persons to the offices in reference was vested in the Republican President according to the Constitution. I also told Mr Nkowani that accordingly, honourable Stephen Kampyongo was appointed by the President of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, in September 2016 as Minister of Home Affairs. On the other hand, Mr Kaizer Zulu was appointed as Special Assistant, Political Affairs in January of 2015,” Mwansa said.
Mwansa testified that the two were still holding those positions.