LUSAKA Lawyer Martha Mushipe’s arresting officer, in a case where she is charged with seditious practices, has narrated to the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court how he allegedly seized a document at her law firm detailing strategy domination of the ruling PF against UPND from 2015, 2016 and beyond.
Bernard Phiri, 40, a detective inspector based at force headquarters, told the court that Mushipe allegedly chaired a meeting at her law firm to discuss the said seditious document which was given to her by a well wisher.
He added that at the end of the discussion, the meeting resolved to form a crack squad whose aim was to perform acts of violence against the people of Zambia and the State.
The arresting officer claimed that 10 people attended the said meeting namely; Mushipe, Emmanuel Chilekwa, Ephraim Shakafuswa, Clayson Hamasaka, Nchimunya Siamunjeye, Soko Habinda, Clance Zulu, Sambo Lubasi, Omia Hakanga and Hastings Shakanga.
In this matter, Mushipe, is alleged to have on unknown dates but between July 1, 2015 and April 11, 2016 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown and without lawful excuse, had in her possession seditious material namely “Strategy of domination, PF against opposition UPND 2015, 2016 and beyond-UPND at crossroads – transition or conflict / PF’s use of ethnic divide and rules as a means of maintaining political control in Zambia 2015-2016 and beyond” by General Tendai Muduli, Dr. Ngosa Simbyakula and Dydmus Mutasa.
The seditious document was found in one of the offices at Mushipe’s law firm in Millennium Village Villa 48, Madagascar during a search that was conducted at the premises in 2016.
Former Bulletin and Record Magazine journalist Charles Mafa had previously testified that he came in possession the alleged seditious document in February 2015, way before Mushipe had it.
Mafa said it was scary that some of the issues highlighted in the same document, detailing how PF had planned to use violence, tribal division among other things to win the 2016 elections, had actually come to pass.
And when the matter came up for continued trial before Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma, Monday, Phiri told the court that when he warned and cautioned Mushipe on the offence of seditious practices, she elected to remain silent.
He testified that on April 11, 2016 he was on duty when he was assigned to be part of a team that was constituted to look into a complaint that was made by Ephraim Shakafuswa.
Phiri explained that Shakafuswa complained that on July 15, 2015, he was asked to report at Mushipe’s law firm.
He added that he went to report at Villa 48 Madagascar, Millennium Village around 17:00 hours where he found other persons in attendance.
Phiri said Shakafuswa told him that the meeting had 10 people in total.
He said according to Shakafuswa, Mushipe chaired the meeting, adding that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the strategy document which was given to Mushipe by a well wisher.
Phiri said the meeting proceeded to discuss the document titled ‘strategy of domination PF against opposition UPND 2015/ 2016 and beyond’ and that at the end of the discussion, the meeting resolved to form a quack squad whose members were those that attended the meeting.
He said the objective of the quack squad was to perform acts of violence against the people of Zambia and the State.
Phiri told the court that in conclusion of the meeting, Mushipe proceeded to prepare the Oath of confidentiality in the names of people who attended that meeting.
He added that the purpose of the oath of confidentiality was to keep whatever was discussed confidential.
Phiri claimed that Mushipe also prepared a document with code names for those who were in attendance.
He said having listened to the complaint by Shakafuswa, the police proceeded to have warrants signed by the court and further searched the premises of Mushipe’s law firm.
“A search on April 16, 2016 was conducted at the premises. During investigations, a document was found and through a notice of seizure, a file containing those documents was gotten from the premises. I looked at the contents of the file and found that the file contained; a five paged document titled ‘strategy of domination PF against opposition UPND 2015/ 2016 and beyond authored by Tendai Muduli, Dr Simbyakula and Mutasa, the file also contained names of Mushipe, Shakafuswa, Chilekwa among others,” Phiri said.
He said he summoned all the individuals who attended the meeting through the UPND Secretariat but only Chilekwa showed up and he interviewed him over the meeting which allegedly took place at Mushipe’s law firm on July 15, 2015.
Phiri said Chilekwa confirmed attending the meeting and confirmed to have discussed the said document.
He said he extended his investigations to Dr Simbyakula over the document and he denied ever authoring the document.
The arresting officer said he also interviewed Mushipe concerning the meeting held at her officer under a warn and caution statement but she elected to remain silent.
In cross examination by defence lawyers Keith Mweemba and Gilbert Phiri, the witness was asked if he was aware that Charles Mafa, one of the State witnesses, was in possession of the document long before Mushipe even possessed it, the witness said he was aware.
Asked if to this day, the police had arrested Mafa, the arresting officer said no.
He added that Mafa was not arrested because he never sat to form a quack squad.
The State witness however, agreed that the said document was in public domain as it was on the internet
Asked by Mweemba if he agreed that it was erroneous of him to arrest the accused person based on something which was already in public domain, Phiri said “no I do not agree.”
He however, admitted that Mushipe did not author the document and that the said document brought out issues of public interest.