THERE was massive jubilation at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court complex yesterday after the State entered a nolle prosequi in a case in which 24 PF cadres were accused of being in possession of offensive weapons and trafficking in marijuana.
The case against the 24 has since been discontinued.
In this matter, Joshua Chitwaka and 23 other accused persons, who include; pupils, businessmen, drivers and some unemployed, were charged with one count of possession of offensive weapons and another count of trafficking in psychotropic substances.
The 24 men aged between 14 years and 48 years were alleged to have on December 22, 2020 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together, possessed offensive weapons namely, four machetes, one golf stick, one axe and six bars without lawful authority or excuse.
The accused persons were also alleged to have trafficked in psychotropic substances namely, 316.1 grams of marijuana, a herbal product of cannabis sativa.
The 24 who were arrested in Lusaka’s Chawama Compound had however, pleaded not guilty to the offences and trial had started.
However, when the matter came up for continued trial before Magistrate Betty Malupenga, Thursday morning, State prosecutor Lewis Kandele informed the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had entered a nolle prosequi in the matter.
In view of the nolle prosequi, Magistrate Malupenga informed the accused persons that the proceedings against them were discontinued and they were free to go.
As they were leaving the court premises, the 24 supporters together with their sympathisers displayed massive celebration, with some displaying the PF symbol.
Previously, Nolianga Nawa, an assistant investigations officer at Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), testified that on December 23, 2020, whilst she was on duty, information was received to their office that there were 24 unknown male persons in custody at Ibex police station.
She said the information further indicated the 24 were found with offensive weapons and suspected psychotropic substances in Chawama Compound.
“Acting upon the information, a team of DEC officers was constituted, and I was part of the team. The team proceeded to Ibex police station where the 24 suspects one of them I came to know as Joshua Chitwakwa and 23 others were handed over to DEC together with suspected drugs concealed in a whitish Pick n Pay plastic bag,” Nawa said.
She said the 24 suspects were detained in different police posts because they were unruly so they had to separate them.
Nawa further told the court that in the afternoon of December 23, 2020, the drugs were taken to UTH laboratory for analysis where they were confirmed to be cannabis with a total weight of 316.1 grams.
“On December 24, 2020, a warn and caution statement was recorded to each one of them in the language they all understood better. And they all gave a free and voluntary replies denying the charge. I therefore made up my mind over the charge and arrested them for trafficking in psychotropic substances,” she said.
In cross examination, defence lawyer Aggripa Malando asked the witness if she found any of the 24 accused persons with the cannabis.
In response, Nawa said no.