A station manager at Millennium Radio Station has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he was shocked and confused when a man who said he was from Kabwe called the station during the “Meal Breakfast Show” and insulted President Edgar Lungu.
Martin Akende told the court that the said caller first started by commending the Head of State for opening Mulungushi Textiles in Central Province, before insulting him.
In this matter, Fred Maanya is charged with defamation of the President.
Particulars of the offence allege that on March 28, 2019 in Lusaka, Maanya, with intent to bring the name of the President into ridicule, published insulting matter by word of mouth.
He has pleaded not guilty to the offence.
When the matter came up before Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale for continued trial, Monday, Akende, 33, testified that he was a radio presenter who presented a breakfast show called the ‘Meal Breakfast Show’.
He added that the said show which had three presenters, was from Monday to Friday and started at 06:15 hours and ended at 09:45 hours.
Akende explained that the said show comprised different segments, which included ‘daily weather updates’, ‘what’s in the news’ and so on.
He testified that on the material day, he reported for work at 06:15 hours and started the show as his co-presenters were not yet in.
“By the way, the show is hosted by the three of us. But on that day, I was the first one to arrive and I started the show. As the set up for show, I gave out the weather forecast for that day and later went on ‘what’s in the news’ segment,” Akende testified.
“I read out the stories, and by that time, my co-presenter, Prisca Lumingu, joined me on the show and we became the two of us.”
He said when his co-presenter joined him, they read out what was in the news and opened the phone lines.
Akende said listeners then started calling in.
He said later on the show, they received a call and by that time, the third presenter, Emmanuel Mwewa, had just joined them.
Akende said they received a call between 06:50 and 06:53 hours from a man who told them that he was calling from Kabwe, before he insulted the President.
“The caller was using Bemba. When he started contributing, he started by saying ‘ndefwaya ukutasha ba President elo bakesa mu kwisula Mulungushi. Ndefwaya ukubatotela… (I want to thank the President as he comes to open Mulungushi [Textiles], I want to thank him)’. At that time I asked him when the President was going to go to Kabwe,” he testified.
“He went on to say ‘ba Lungu bukala bwabo, panyo…’ at that point, I cut this line.”
He said after the insults, all the presenters became silent as they were shocked and confused.
Akende said they then went on a break and when they returned, they distanced the station from the remarks that were uttered.
“We again went on another break for the news headlines at 07:00 hours. Because I was still in shock, I again apologized and distanced myself and the station from the said remarks that were uttered,” he said.
Akende said his boss, Patricia Chibiliti, reported the matter to ZICTA as the system used on air does not show the numbers of the callers.
In cross examination by defence lawyer Mulambo Haimbe, Akende said he could not identify the person who made the call because he does not know him but knows the voice which called the radio station.
“I don’t know the accused but I know the voice which called the station,” he said.
Akende admitted that on the material day, the station received more than one call on the programme.
Asked if he knew whether it was the accused who was speaking in the purported recording, the witness said no.
Another witness, Lumingu, Akende’s co-presenter, confirmed having heard a caller insult the President.
The matter has been adjourned to March 16, 2020 for continued trial.