THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has sentenced a 31-year-old Luanshya man to 36 months imprisonment with hard labour for insulting President Edgar Lungu during a phone-in programme on Millenium Radio.

This is a matter in which Fred Manyaa was charged with defamation of the President but he pleaded not guilty.

Particulars of the offence were that on March 28, 2019 in Lusaka, Maanya with intent to bring the name of the President into ridicule, published insulting matter by word of mouth.

Delivering judgment Friday, Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale, stated that it appeared as though people had found it fashionable to insult the President at will.

Magistrate Mwale said that the highest office in the land must be given the utmost respect it deserved and that he deemed it necessary to impose a stiff punishment on the convict in order to deter would be offenders.

He later sentenced the accused to three years imprisonment with hard labour.

The convict was arrested on March 28, 2019 following a call he made on Millennium Radio during a phone-in programme and insulted the president.

During trial, the radio station manager, Martin Akende testified that he was shocked and confused when a man who said he was from Kabwe, called the station during ‘Meal breakfast show’ and insulted President Lungu.

Akende testified that the caller first started by commending the Head of State for opening Mulungushi Textiles in Central Province, before insulting him.

“The caller was using Bemba. When he started contributing, he started by saying ‘ndefwaya ukutasha ba President elo bakesa mu kwisula Mulungushi. Ndefwaya ukubatotela… (I want to thank the President as he comes to open Mulungushi [Textiles], I want to thank him)’,” he said.

Akende said at that point, he asked the caller when the President was going to go to Kabwe but he went on to insult the Head of State, forcing him (Akende) to cut the line.

He said his boss, Patricia Chibiliti, reported the matter to ZICTA as the system he uses on air did not show the numbers of the callers.

However, in his defence, Manyaa denied being the person who made the call to the radio station and accused his friend of doing so.

He testified that his friend by the name of Aaron Zimba had asked for his phone, that he wanted to call someone and went outside where he allegedly made the call to the radio station.

But in his judgement, Magistrate Mwale said that the defence given by Manyaa that his friend was the one who made the call was just an afterthought given the fact that he failed to bring the same person to testify before court.

However in mitigation, through his lawyer, Manyaa asked for the court’s sympathy saying he was a family man who had children who look up to him for survival.