A DETECTIVE inspector has testified that he made up his mind to arrest Lusaka photographer Cornelius Chellah Tukuta for the offence of libel because he had enough evidence against him.
And Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale has set April 16, this year for ruling on whether or not Chellah has a case to answer.
In this matter, Chella is charged with libel before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.
It is alleged that on May 26, 2020 in Lusaka, the accused published defamatory matter affecting Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya in the form of a video on Facebook that “This Dora Siliya is hooking up girls, selling girls to the high profile people, so that men can be sleeping [with them], she is actually the highest of the highest professional prostitute. If Dora Siliya is refusing these allegations that she does not connect girls to high profile people for sex, let her come”.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and trial commenced with Siliya testifying in the matter as the first prosecution witness.
And when the matter came up for continued trial, Thursday, Robison Kalonde told the court that he made up his mind to arrest Chellah because he had enough evidence against him.
In cross examination, defence lawyer Mulambo Haimbe asked the witness whether he was an expert in computer generated evidence, but he said no.
Kalonde, however, agreed that he didn’t tell the court whether he did anything to check whether the video he viewed which contained the alleged defamatory words was edited in any way.
The witness also admitted that he didn’t tell the court during his evidence in chief on what he did to rule out false implication against the accused person, or that he ruled out the possibility of the Facebook account being tempered with or hacked.
Asked whether he was aware that Siliya had been called a prostitute before, the witness said he was aware.
Further asked if he had told the court that he did anything to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the alleged defamatory statements, the witness said “I haven’t told the court”.
At this point, Haimbe asked, “yet you made up your mind to arrest (the accused)” to which the witness responded in the affirmative.
After cross examination, Senior State Advocate Bob Mwewa informed the court that the State was closing its case.
Haimbe then indicated to the court that the defence would file written submissions on whether the accused person had a case to answer.
Magistrate Mwale directed that the defence should file their submissions on or before April 8, while the State by April 15.
He set April 16, this year, for a ruling on whether or not the accused has a case to answer.
Previously, Kalonde had testified that on June 2, 2020, he received a complaint from Siliya who complained that an unknown person published defamatory remarks against her on a Facebook page.
Kalonde, 45, of Kafue Police camp said the said Facebook page was in the names of ‘Chellah Tukuta Photography’.
He said he interviewed Siliya and also viewed the content of a video which had a male person who was dark in complexion and was wearing a blue long-sleeved t-shirt.
Kalonde said in the said video the man was allegedly saying that “this Siliya is hooking girls, she is selling girls so that they can be sleeping with high profile men. She is actually the highest of the highest prostitutes. If Dora Siliya is refusing this allegation, that she does not connect girls to high profile people for sex, let her come”.
The witness said as a result of the said words, the complainant (Siliya) felt that her reputation was injured.
Kalonde further said acting on Siliya’s complaint, he instituted investigations to determine the user of the Facebook page called ‘Chella Tukuta Photography’.
He said the cyber crime report indicated that the Chellah Tukuta Photography Facebook page was operated by mobile No. 0962443045 which was registered by MTN mobile service provider.
Kalonde said he further requested from MTN for subscriber identification information and that according to the report from MTN, it indicated that the mobile No. 0962443045 was registered in the names of Cornelius Mulenga Tukuta who was a holder of NRC No. 130705/10/1 and holder of a drivers licence.
He said he later verified the NRC number from Department of National Registration and the drivers licence from the Road Transport and Safety Agency and confirmed that they were issued to Cornelius Mulenga Tukuta.
Siliya who is also Information and Broadcasting Minister had testified that she was extremely disturbed that someone could be referring to her as a person who sells girls to high profile men which she believed was a crime.
“I felt angry, embarrassed because apart from my own person, a person who has been a public servant for so many years, I felt that this injury was about me in person but also government since I work for the government and also the people of Zambia who elected that government that I work for. I also felt that it was damaging to me and to my reputation and my family,” testified Siliya.