LUSAKA High Court Judge Ruth Chibbabbuka has recused herself from handling a case where nine Chinese nationals working for Kingphar Zambia Limited, among them, the company director and shareholder have sued Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho, the Attorney General and four others for false imprisonment, unlawful detention and distress.
According to a memorandum for recusal, Judge Chibbabbuka stated that there was potential conflict of interest in the matter as one of the defendants was known to her.
She, therefore, recused herself and referred the case file back for re-allocation.
“I have critically perused the file before me, there is potential conflict of interest as one of the defendants is known to me. I, therefore, recuse myself and refer the file back for re-allocation,” read her memo dated July 16, 2020.
The case has since been re-allocated to Lusaka High Court Judge Wilfred Muma.
In this matter, Wang Shunxue and eight others have also sued Chief Inspector of Police Platoon Commander at the Mass Media operations point Inspector Kachinga, driver to the Inspector General of Police, Inspector Matabishi, Constable Nkowani stationed at Mass media operation point and an administrative officer at Messrs Lewis Nathan Advocates, Brian Lukwesa.
Wang and eight others stated in their statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court that on April 21, 2020, Lukwesa, under the instruction of Mosho, who was acting on behalf of his clients Youjun Zhuang and Wang Qinghai, orchestrated the unlawful arrest and detention of the nine (plaintiffs) at Chelstone Police Station in contumelious disregard of their human rights and the law.
They stated that on April 21, 2020, Kachinga, Matabishi and Nkowani caused to be published defamatory words that “the Chinese nationals are being detained for money laundering, fraud and illegal stay in Zambia.”
Wang and the others further stated that in their natural and ordinary meaning, the said words were meant and understood to mean that the plaintiffs were criminals who had entered Zambia illegally and had been engaged in criminal activities, among them money laundering and fraud, when in fact not.
They stated that the said words, which had been preceded by illegal arrest and false imprisonment, had the consequence of seriously injuring the plaintiffs’ reputation causing them to suffer considerable distress and anxiety, including a raid at the business premises and being kept out of their residence.
But Lukwesa had raised preliminary issues for the Court to determine whether or not the Lusaka High Court under cause numbers 2020/HPC/ 0268, 2020 HP/0486 and 2020/HPC/0336 before different judges and the Kabwe High Court under cause number 2020/HB/023, could properly hear and determine those causes of actions considering that each of those causes interferes with the performance of the judicial function by a judge sitting at Kabwe as consolidated, contrary to Article 122 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016.
He further wants the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court for a determination on whether the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court includes supervision of one High Court Judge by another High Court Judge, contrary to Article 134 (b) of the Constitution.
Lukwesa also wants the Court to stay the proceedings pending determination of the constitutional issues raised.