THE Lusaka Magistrates Court has sentenced a man to six months imprisonment with hard labour but suspended for 12 months for rioting.

And two juveniles have been taken for counselling for the same offence.

Meanwhile, four University of Zambia students have been granted K10,000 bail in their own recognisance in a matter they are charged with rioting and malicious damage to property.

Harrison Musonda and juvenile offenders were charged with a count of rioting contrary to Section 79 of the Penal Code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

Facts before court were that on February 13, 2020, the accused persons and other members of the public threw stones at John Howard Police Post, burnt tyres and blocked the road with stones after word went round that police had apprehended some people behind the gassing incidents that rocked the capital city.

They were then warned against their unruly behaviour but they did not stop.

The officer-in-charge of operations at Chawama police station, inspector Phiri, then ordered that the rioters should disperse but they did not heed to the order and instead went on with the illegal acts.

The police officers then apprehended Musonda and the juvenile offenders who were in the crowd and took them to John Howard police post where detective constable Ngulube took up the matter and instituted investigations.

The accused persons were then interviewed separately but police decided to jointly charge and arrest them.

A warn and caution statement was administered to each of them in Nyanja where they gave free and voluntary reply admitting the charge.

And in deciding the matter, Principal Resident Magistrate Mwaka Mikalile found the accused guilty by their own admission.

In mitigation, the first accused, a grade 12 pupil, said he did not mean to harm anyone as he did not know that his actions were against the law.

He said he thought he was helping his community by taking part in the riot and asked for forgiveness from the court.

The third accused, also a juvenile, asked for forgiveness, saying he thought he was doing a service to the community as it was a norm in the village to run to where there was noise so that the community or those in need could be helped.

Magistrate Mikalile then advised the accused to do their best to live a meaningful life and make the most of themselves.

She expressed hope that the time they have spent in prison has taught them a lesson to stay away from riots and be better law-abiding citizens.

Magistrate Mikalile then sentenced the first accused to counselling at PRISCCA and the third accused, a juvenile of Nyimba district, to counselling at the Nyimba Social Welfare Office as he was only a visitor in Lusaka.

The court proceeded to sentence Musonda to six months imprisonment with hard labour, suspended for 12 months on condition that he does not commit a similar offence during the said period.

Meanwhile, the four University of Zambia students who were arrested and charged for rioting and causing damage to property have been granted K10,000 bail in their own recognisance.

In the first count, the four are charged with one count of rioting contrary to Section 79 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that Richard Phiri, Wamulume Munalula, Elijah Phiri and Pascal Mulobezhi, on March 16, 2020, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with others unknown, and being in a riotous assembly, took part in a riot.

In count two, the accused are charged with malicious damage to property contrary to 335(1) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that the accused, on the same date in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together, wilfully and unlawfully damaged seven trolleys, altogether valued at K14,000, the property of east park mall.

When the accused appeared before Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale, they pleaded not guilty to both counts and applied for bail.

They were then granted K10,000 bail in their own recognizance with two working sureties in the like sum, who must be permanent residents of Lusaka, of fixed abode and in permanent employment.

It’s a free bail, you don’t need to pay anything, just ensure that you secure the sureties,” said magistrate Mwale.

The matter was adjourned to April 7, 2020 for mention and April 27, 2020 for commencement of trial.