ZAMBIA Police Spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo has testified as a second defence witness in a matter in which Republican Progressive Party (RPP) leader James Lukuku is charged with expressing hatred or contempt against Chinese nationals due to their race.
Katongo narrated to the Court that on September 5, 2018, she received queries from the media over the arrest of Lukuku, which she confirmed after finding out from police officers who were on the ground.
In this matter, Lukuku is alleged to have uttered words and published writings, expressing and showing hatred for Chinese nationals because of their race and place of origin when he allegedly issued a statement where he called for people to protest against the Chinese influence in Zambia.
In February this year, Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale found Lukuku with a case to answer in the charge of expressing or showing ridicule or contempt for persons because of race.
He, however, acquitted him in the other count of uttering seditious speech.
When the matter came up for continued defence, Tuesday, Lukuku’s lawyer Mulambo Haimbe informed the Court that the defence was ready to proceed with one witness.
He added that the witness was compelled to come and testify in the matter after being issued with witness summons.
Once in the witness stand, the police spokesperson said on September 5, 2018, she was working in her office when she received phone calls from some media houses who queried over Lukuku’s arrest.
“I wouldn’t recall [the names of the media houses], but there were a few of them asking about the arrest of RPP president James Lukuku,” Katongo said.
She said as per standard practice, she called officers on the ground to find out what had transpired.
Katongo said she was informed that Lukuku had staged a lone protest and that police had arrested and taken him to Woodlands Police Station.
“That is the information, which I gave to the media, which they were asking about. I was told that he was charged with conduct likely to cause breach of peace,” she said.
Katongo, who confirmed that Lukuku was arrested and detained, however, said she wouldn’t recall where the accused was apprehended from, but that it was somewhere in Woodlands area.
In cross-examination, State prosecutor Stuyvesant Malambo said that he had no questions for the defence witness.
After Katongo finished with her testimony, defence lawyer, Haimbe, said he had attempted to secure the attendance of another defence witness, journalist Alexander Musokotwane, but that his phone went unanswered.
He asked the court to give Musokotwane a benefit of doubt so that he could testify at the next sitting.
The matter comes up on December 2, 2020, for continued defence.
In his defence, Lukuku had denied publishing racial statements against Chinese nationals, saying he had no hatred for humanity whatsoever.
He told the Court that in 2018, there was a lot of information circulating relating to dealings between the Zambian government and China where there was a general feeling that a lot of parastatal companies were being mortgaged for the benefit of Chinese companies.
Lukuku said that the parastatal companies, which were allegedly listed to be mortgaged, included ZNBC, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) and Zesco.
“As a political leader, I took responsibility of speaking for my country and speaking as a voice of the voiceless,” he said.
Lukuku said on September 5, 2018, he undertook a lone protest against China as a Republic and not against Chinese people.
He said during his lone protest, he carried a placard written “China equals Hitler” and started moving from Kabulonga and ended up close to the Hilltop Hospital in Ibex Hill.
Lukuku, however, said he was later intercepted by police, who asked him to accompany them to Woodlands Police Station, saying his activity was likely to disturb public peace.
He narrated that while at Woodlands Police Station, he was detained for about six hours before being released after paying admission of guilt fee.
Lukuku said in November, 2018, he was again arrested and charged in relation to publishing racial statements against Chinese.