THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has refused to grant bail 18 men, among them a pastor, accused of damaging a motor vehicle and a house at Kanyama Police Camp because the situation is still volatile.

This is in connection with reports of gassing in their townships.

The 18, who were charged with rioters injuring a building, have, however, pleaded not guilty.

The accused persons in this matter are Clement Lwabila, Saidi Miti, Micheal Bailack, Mark Kapalu, Lovemore Siajitinta, Cephas Mulayi, Rodgers Mwape, Harrison Mwalusaka, Joseph Phiri, Peter Kindalo, Martin Ngulube, Alex Phiri, Simon Mumba, Clinton Nc’ube, Shadrick Mulongo, Bruce Mwelwa, Benson Mwansa and Point Mwanza.

It is alleged that on February 13, 2020 in Lusaka, the 18 jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown, and being in riotous assembly, unlawfully damaged a house in Kanyama and a Toyota Land Cruiser registration ZP 2116B, the property of the Zambia Police.

When the matter came up for plea before chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale, Monday, the accused persons all pleaded not guilty.

After the court entered pleas of not guilty, the accused persons applied for bail pending trial, to which the State did not object.

But ruling on the bail application, magistrate Mwale said although the accused were innocent until proven guilty, they needed to be kept in custody considering the current happenings in Lusaka.

“I have considered the application for bail pending trial by the accused persons and that there is no objection from the State. However, the court takes judicial notice of the current happenings in Lusaka and other parts of the country. The situation prevailing in Lusaka makes it desirable that the accused persons remain in custody until further notice. I direct the prosecution to expedite the matter,” magistrate Mwale said.

The matter comes up on March 10, 2020 for commencement of trial.

Meanwhile, two people have also appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court on a similar charge.

In this matter, Lameck Tembo and Chrispine Chikunka are alleged to have, on the same date in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons and being in a riotous assembly, unlawfully damaged Kanyama West Police Post and four motor vehicles, the property of Zambia Police.