LUSAKA Magistrate Felix Kaoma has set free Lusaka lawyer Martha Mushipe, who was facing a charge of seditious practices.
Magistrate Kaoma said in his ruling yesterday that the seditious material on which the said offence was anchored on does not appear by any stretch of imagination to contain any seditious words or seditious intentions.
Meanwhile, Mushipe has expressed gratitude that justice has prevailed and further thanked the Court over its decision.
In this matter, Mushipe was 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 allegedly 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.
Ruling on a case or no case to answer, Monday, Magistrate Kaoma said he had given due consideration to the evidence adduced by the prosecution as well as the defence submissions.
He, however, said that the document admitted into evidence on which the offence of possession of seditious material was anchored did not appear by any stretch of imagination to contain any seditious words or seditious intentions.
Magistrate Kaoma added that what the prosecution seemed to suggest to be seditious intentions was what was discussed in the meeting alleged to have taken place in Mushipe’s office, particularly on the formation of a crack squad, which had no bearing on the said alleged seditious document.
“It is worth stating that from the evidence adduced, particularly the document admitted in evidence and marked P1, on which the offence of possession of seditious material is anchored, does not appear by any stretch of imagination to contain any seditious words or seditious intentions as defined in section 60 of the Penal Code of the laws of Zambia,” Magistrate Kaoma said.
“By way of comment, what the prosecution seems to suggest to be seditious intentions is what was discussed in the meeting alleged to have taken place in the accused’s office, particularly on the formation of a crack squad, which has no bearing on exhibit marked P1.”
He said the prosecution in the matter had failed to establish a prima facie case against Mushipe for the offence of seditious practice and accordingly acquitted her.
“In light of the foregoing, therefore, it is plain that the prosecution have failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused for the offence of seditious practices and as such, I find her with no case to answer and accordingly acquit her,” ruled Magistrate Kaoma.
And speaking shortly after being acquitted, the visibly-delighted Mushipe, expressed gratitude that justice had prevailed.
“According to the evidence that was before the Court, the Court did find that there was no case to answer. I think justice has prevailed and I thank the Court in making a good analysis of the evidence, which was before the Court because there’s really no evidence against me,” said Mushipe.
Mushipe was in this matter represented by Lusaka lawyers Keith Mweemba and Gilbert Phiri.
During trial, the arresting officer had narrated to the Court how he allegedly seized a document at Mushipe’s 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 cross-examination by defence lawyers Mweemba and 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 if the police had arrested Mafa, the arresting officer said no.
He added that Mafa was not arrested because he never sat to form a crack 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.
And former Bulletin and Record Magazine journalist Charles Mafa had previously testified that he came in possession of 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 the PF had planned to use violence, tribal division, among other things, to win the 2016 elections, had actually come to pass.