A STATE witness has testified that the complaint of a Luanshya man allegedly insulting President Edgar Lungu during a phone-in programme on Millennium Radio was referred to the Zambia Police Service as it fell out of ZICTA’s mandate to investigate.
Boniface Sianankange, a Social Media Compliance officer from ZICTA, told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that this was after ZICTA received a complaint from Millennium Radio regarding misuse of telecommunications services.
This is a matter in which Fred Maanya is charged with defamation of the President but he pleaded not guilty.
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.
Previously, Martin Akende, the station manager at Millennium Radio Station, testified 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 Lungu.
He said the caller first started by commending the Head of State for opening Mulungushi Textiles in Central Province, before insulting him.
“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 went on to say ‘ba Lungu b****a bwenu p****’. At that point, I cut the line,” Akende said.
He said his boss, Patricia Chibiliti, reported the matter to ZICTA as the system he uses on air did 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.
And when the matter came up before Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale for continued trial, Monday, Sianankange testified that on the material day, ZICTA received a complaint from Millennium Radio that around 06:50 hours, a person who introduced himself as Chanda from Kabwe called the station and praised the President on his intention to open Mulungushi Textiles.
He added that in the middle of that call, the caller changed the tone of the conversation and started insulting the Head of State using derogatory remarks.
“After praising the Head of State that ‘twatasha sana ba Lungu pakwisula Mulungushi Textiles kuno ku Kabwe’, he went on to say ‘kwena ba Lungu twami tasha sana. B****a bwenu, p****’. At that point, the presenters were shocked and cut him,” the witness said.
Sianankange told the court that the nature of the complaint fell out of ZICTA’s mandate to investigate and was therefore, referred to Zambia Police for further investigations.
Asked in cross examination whether he did any investigations to connect the accused person to the alleged defamatory words, the witness said he did not.