NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has retained former Attorney General Musa Mwenye SC of Mwenye and Mwitwa Advocates to represent him in a matter he is charged with forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to a public officer.
Meanwhile, Lusaka High Court Registrar David Simusamba, who sat as Principal Resident Magistrate, warned Kambwili to open his defence on March 20, failure to which he will take appropriate action saying that the NDC leader has been given enough opportunities to defend himself.
This is a matter in which, Kambwili is charged with three counts of forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to a public officer in relation to the registration of Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services.
It is alleged that on October 29, 2013, Kambwili with intent to defraud or deceive, forged a “no change return” (companies form 71) purporting to show that it was genuinely signed by his son Mwamba when in fact not.
It is further alleged that on the same date, Kambwili knowingly and fraudulently uttered the same document to an officer at Patents and Companies’ Registration Agency (PACRA).
On November 28, last year, magistrate Simusamba found Kambwili with a case to answer in the matter and consequently placed him on his defence.
Kambwili has however, not opened his defence since then.
Last month, Kambwili’s lawyers Keith Mweemba, Gilbert Phiri and Christopher Mundia excused themselves from representing the accused in the matter for reasons they did not disclose.
However, when the matter came up last week, Kambwili failed to open his defence in the matter as he was said to be admitted to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).
His lawyer David Banda informed the court that the accused was admitted to UTH after his condition got worse in the early hours of that day.
Magistrate Simusamba then gave Kambwili a last benefit of doubt and adjourned the matter to yesterday for commencement of defence.
But when the matter came up for commencement of defence yesterday, a defence lawyer Emmanuel Kaluba of Mwenye and Mwitwa Advocates, applied for an adjournment saying he was standing in for Musa Mwenye who was before the High Court.
Kaluba informed the court that Kambwili only retained them on Monday to act for him in the matter and there was need for Mwenye to obtain further instructions.
“Counsel seized with the conduct of this matter is Mr Musa Mwenye who attending to a trial before the High Court. On that basis, we are applying for a short adjournment to enable counsel seized with the conduct of this matter to obtain further instructions and also attend to the matter in person,” he said.
But deputy chief State advocate Margaret Chitundu said the application for an adjournment was unfortunate as Kambwili had not commenced his defence despite being found with a case to answer last year.
“We wish to express our sentiments that a further adjournment in this matter is unfortunate because the accused was placed on his defence last year and that defence has not kicked off up to date. As earlier stated, it is unfortunate. Be that as it may, we understand the accused’s right to be defended by counsel of his choice and it is in that line that we do not object to that application,” she said.
Magistrate Simusamba also agreed with Chitundu that the defence’s application for an adjournment was unfortunate, adding that it was a continuation of what had been a trend since the commencement of the matter.
He further noted that he had given Kambwili a month to find or instruct a lawyer after the previous ones withdrew but added that the accused only retained his new lawyer on Monday when he was aware of yesterday’s date.
Magistrate Simusamba however, adjourned the matter to March 20.
“I reluctantly adjourn the matter to March 20 and warn that on that date, defence would have to commence or I will take appropriate action as it is on record that the accused has been given enough opportunity to defend himself,” said magistrate Simusamba.