COURT of Appeal judge Mubanga Kondolo has fined Kingsland City Investment Limited K175,000 for disobeying the injunction which restrained continued works at Kingsland City.
Judge Kondolo ordered that the said amount should be paid into court within the next four weeks, failure to which the Chief Executive Officer of Kingsland City Investment Limited, Huang Bing and directors Xiaoqiang Wen and Zhizhong Zhang shall be committed to prison for the period of four weeks.
On February 17, this year, judge Kondolo granted Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust Limited and nine traditional leaders of the Soli people an injunction restraining the continued works at Kingsland City.
Delivering his ruling, judge Kondolo said the Kingsland City, regardless of the magnitude of the project, does not enjoy State immunity from injunction.
“The application for an injunction is successful and the first to fifth respondents (Zambia Airforce Projects Limited, Kingsland City Investment Limited, Drimtown Investment Limited, Shangrila Investment Limited and Datong Construction Limited) are restrained from continuing works on the area covered by the decision letter issued to the first respondent (ZAF Projects Limited) on February 7, 2019,” he ruled.
However, Kingsland City Investment Limited disobeyed the Court’s injunction by continuing with the construction works.
This prompted Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust and the nine traditional leaders through their lawyers from Messrs Nchito and Nchito to apply for an order that the Court of Appeal commits Bing, Wen and Zhang to prison for contempt of court for disobeying the injunction ruling which restrained them from breaching the conditions of the Zambia Environmental Agency’s decision letter of February 7, 2019 by continuing any building or construction works or restricted actions until further order.
According to an affidavit in support of notice of motion for contempt proceedings filed in May this year, Robert Chimambo, the secretary of Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust, stated that Kingsland City Investment Limited, Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investment Limited, their directors and agents despite being served with the injunction ruling had willfully and wantonly disobeyed the ruling of the court by continuing to clear and uproot more of the vegetation and proceed with building works on the site.
“Kingsland City Investment Limited, through its Chief Executive Officer Mr Huang Bing who also heads Sunshare Investments Limited and its directors Xiaoqiang Wen and Zhizhong Zhang have continued construction and are still selling and conveying properties on the site to various purchasers despite being fully aware of the injunction ruling,” he stated.
But Bing had argued that Kingsland City Investment Limited, Drimtown Investments Limited, Shangrila Investment Limited, their directors or agents had in no way wantonly disobeyed any order of the court and that they had not undertaken any works since being served the ruling of the court.
He added that Kingsland City Investment Limited, Drimtown Investments Limited and Shangrila Investment Limited were not responsible for any activity that maybe taking place but that it was Zambia Airforce who was undertaking the activities complained of.
However, when the matter came up in Court of Appeal yesterday before judge Kondolo, a lawyer who was representing the alleged contemners, Kampamba Kombe from Messrs Andrew and Partners, informed the court that his clients sought to purge their contempt by giving a full and frank admission of the contempt before court.
He said his clients also made an undertaking before court to comply with the provisions in the decision letter that was issued in respect of the said project until further order of the court and to further take remedial action for the breaches that were already in place.
Judge Kondolo allowed the alleged contemners to proceed and purge their contempt.
After taking oath, Bing admitted disobeying the Court’s order and continuing with the construction works at Kingsland City.
He admitted that after the Court’s order they constructed some houses and handed over others.
Bing said they also dug a foundation for a water tank and further ran adverts on some houses which were on sale.
He said they had since ceased the construction works and further asked the court to be lenient on them and exercise mercy, adding that they would obey any Court’s orders going forward.
And Wen, who is a director in Kingsland City, also asked for the Court’s leniency saying the company would do everything possible to comply with what the court was going to decide.
In his ruling, judge Kondolo said he had considered that the contemners had readily admitted to disobeying the Court’s order and thereby not wasted the Court’s time.
He said he had also considered their prayer that he exercises leniency on them.
Judge Kondolo however, said orders of the court cannot be disobeyed, adding that the court cannot condone a situation of lawlessness where orders of the court were disobeyed.
He said the directors of Zambia Air Force Limited who he believed were public officials, should have seen to it that their contractors were not in contempt of the order of the court.
Judge Kondolo consequently fined Kingsland City K175,000.
“I consequently fine them (contemners) a sum of K175,000 to be paid into court within the next four weeks, failure of which the directors cited shall be committed to prison for the period of four weeks,” ruled judge Kondolo.