LUSAKA High Court judge Wilfred Muma says police stations are supposed to be respected because that’s where everyone runs to for protection.
Judge Muma said this when he fined suspended Eastern Province PF youth chairperson Emmanuel Banda, commonly known as Jay Jay, and three others K150 each for disorderly conduct in a police station, Thursday.
Meanwhile, Judge Muma has sentenced their co-accused Maxwell Pito to 12 months imprisonment for assaulting a police officer.
In this matter, Banda, 35, John Lungu, 26, Morris Silwonde, 27, and Lyford Phiri, 21 were charged with disorderly conduct in a police station, while Pito, 20, was charged with assault.
They all pleaded guilty to the charges on Wednesday and judge Muma convicted them.
Particulars of the offence in count one were that Banda, Lungu, Silwonde and Phiri on July 6, this year, in Lusaka acted in an indecent, disorderly and insulting manner whilst at Lusaka Central Police station.
In count two, Pito, 20, on the same date assaulted Police officer, Allan Mbahwe, at Lusaka Central Police Station.
During mitigation, defence lawyer Osborne Ngoma said Banda, Lungu, Silwonde and Phiri who were charged with disorderly conduct in a police station, were young persons and first offenders who had readily pleaded guilty to the charge.
He added that the four convicts were bread winners of their families and were remorseful of their actions.
Ngoma pleaded with the court to impose a fine on the convicts rather than a custodial sentence.
With regards Pito, Ngoma said the convict was equally remorseful of his actions and wanted to reconcile with the complainant.
The matter came up yesterday for sentencing.
Passing sentence, Judge Muma said he had considered the convicts’ mitigation and that the five were first offenders thereby deserving leniency.
He said a police station ought to guarantee order for everyone, but added that to the contrary, the convicts misbehaved at a police station thereby making a police station a circus.
Judge Muma said the convicts deserved to be punished.
He, however, said he was constrained by the prescribed penalty which was not what he would have wanted, because police stations needed to be respected.
“If you turn the police station as a circus, where shall everybody run to? A police station is supposed to be a place of sanctity. That’s where everybody runs to as a sanctuary and for protection. You deserve to be punished, non the less I’m constrained by the prescribed penalty, which is not the way I would want to have punished you if I had the discretion to do that because police stations are supposed to be respected,” Judge Muma said.
In count one, he fined Banda, Lungu, Silwonde and Phiri K150 each in default three months simple imprisonment, while in count two, he sentenced Pito to 12 months imprisonment, with effect from the date of arrest on July 6,2020.
Facts in this matter were that Banda on July 6, this year, requested to meet Mbahwe who is a police officer in charge of the Anti-Motor Vehicle Theft Unit whom he had known for a few years and had a cordial relationship with at his office at Lusaka Central Police.
The purpose of the meeting was for Banda to express his grievance concerning the death of his young cousin William Tembo who was at the time of his death working for him at his garage.
Tembo was allegedly killed by police officers from Mbahwe’s unit in the course of an arrest a few days earlier.
Banda, who was at the time in the company of the other accused persons and other unknown persons, arrived at Lusaka Central Police Station at about 10:30 hours and met Mbahwe at the reception area of the police station.
Mbahwe requested that Banda accompanies him to his office but the convict became emotional, unruly and aggressive and began shouting ‘kill me the way you killed my relative’.
In a bid to calm Banda down, Mbahwe approached him and as he got closer to him, Pito attacked Mbahwe with slaps and kicks whilst Lungu, Silwonde and Phiri became unruly and disorderly.
Lungu, Pito and Silwonde indicated that they thought Banda was about to be kicked by Mbahwe hence their reaction.
Whilst this was happening, the other police officers in the vicinity, quickly came to the aid of Mbahwe and broke up the scuffle thereby apprehending Lungu, Pito, Silwonde and Phiri.
However, Banda managed to escape during the scuffle, but later turned himself in on August 19.