A 58-year-old businessman has appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court on a charge of treason for allegedly conspiring with another person to procure military equipment for purposes of assassinating President Edgar Lungu and other senior government officials.

In this matter, Mwangala Ngalande of Lusaka’s Roma Township has been charged with one count of treason.

It is alleged that between August 1, 2019, and December 1, 2019, in Lusaka, Ngalande, jointly and whilst acting together with other person’s unknown, did prepare or endeavour to overthrow by unlawful means, the Government of the Republic of Zambia as by law established.

According to Overt Act Number 1, it is alleged that Ngalande conspired with Simon Njobvu to procure military equipment namely; AK47 assault ruffles, pistols and rocket propelled grenades for the purposes of assassinating President Lungu and other senior government officials namely; service chiefs, Minister of Defence Davies Chama, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini and his deputy.

In Overt Act number 2, Ngalande on the same dates allegedly conspired with Njobvu to source for international funding and actually obtained US $1.6 million, finances to be utilized in overthrowing government as by law established.

In Overt Act number 3, Ngalande on the same dates, jointly and whilst acting together with other person’s unknown, recruited 10 people for military training, a militia for purposes of overthrowing the Government of Zambia as by law established.

When the matter came up before Magistrate Lameck Mwale, Wednesday, Ngalande said he understood the charge when it was explained to him.

At this point, Magistrate Mwale informed Ngalande that he would not take plea as the charge he was facing was only triable by the High Court.

Ngalande’s defence lawyer, Martha Mushipe, then applied for a preliminary inquiry pursuant to section 223 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Mushipe said the Court was mandated to hold preliminary inquiries in such cases and had the power to establish whether there was enough evidence warranting the matter be committed to the High Court.

She also applied that the court directs the police or prison authorities to allow the lawyers access to the accused person, saying Ngalande had been held under custody of prison authorities since November 26, last year, but lawyers have had limited access to him to enable them obtain instructions.

Mushipe added that even the few times lawyers had been granted access to Ngalande, it had been in the presence of police officers.

But State prosecutor Juvenalis Kamutondole said he was not aware that the defence had limited access to the accused person.

And ruling on both applications, Magistrate Mwale said the section for preliminary inquiry puts the court under obligations to institute the inquiry and further ordered the State to provide witnesses at the next sitting, with or without instructions of committal.

He also ruled that the defence be given access to Ngalande.

Magistrate Mwale said the accused had the right to representation and confidentiality, while lawyers were obtaining instructions.

He, therefore, directed the prisons authority to accord Ngalande such an opportunity in the interest of justice.

The matter comes up on January 17, 2020, for a mention and possible hearing of the preliminary inquiry.