PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema and five others have applied to have a matter in which they sued the state over false imprisonment restored to the active cause.

This was after High Court Judge Pixie Yangailo struck out the matter from the active cause list on September 14 for want of prosecution, but gave liberty to have it restored within 30 days.

“This matter is scheduled for a status conference. The notice of hearing was issued on July 13, 2021 and served on the parties’ respective advocates on record. Both parties are aware of today’s hearing but are absent. No reason has been advanced for their absence. A perusal of the record reveals that both parties have not complied with the order for directions,” read the order.

“This clearly shows that the parties are not willing to prosecute this matter. Accordingly, this matter is struck off the active cause list with liberty to restore within the next 30 days from the date hereof. Unless this matter is restored within the period stated, it shall stand dismissed for want of prosecution.”

But according to the affidavit in support of ex parte summons for an order to restore the matter to the active cause list, Kamuwanga Phiri of Messrs Malambo and Company stated that he was in self-quarantine on the hearing date after exposure to an individual who tested positive to COVID-19.

“That on 3rd September, I was forced into self-quarantine as I had come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. On 14th September when this matter came up, I was still in quarantine and I requested my colleague to attend the matter on my behalf but she could not make it on time as she was attending to a matter set for 08:30 hours,” he stated.

Phiri however noted that when his representative got to the chambers and arrived shortly after 09:00 hours, she was advised that the honorable court had struck off the matter off the active cause list on account of non-attendance of the parties herein with liberty to restore within 30 days.

He further noted that the non-attendance at 09:00 hours was unintentional and was not meant to be discourteous to the Honorable Court and was deeply regretted.

Phiri stated that the plaintiffs are desirous to proceed with the hearing of the matter on the merits and verily believe that no prejudice will be occasioned to defend should the court grant them an order restoring the matter to the active cause list.

He also stated that prior to the status conference, he failed to obtain instructions from the plaintiffs, especially President Hichilema who has been busy attending to matters of national duty in his new role as the Republican President.

“That we have since obtained instructions and the plaintiffs wish to proceed with the matter and have it heard on its merits,” stated Phiri.

President Hichilema, Hamusonde Hamaleka, Pretorius Haloba, Wallace Chakawa, Laston Mulilanduba and Muleya Hachinda wanted the Lusaka High Court to compel the state to indemnify them damages equivalent in value to the money and personal belongings lost when they were apprehended at the Community House in new Kasama in 2017.

The six were falsely imprisoned on allegations that they committed treason when the President’s convoy allegedly failed to give way to his predecessor Edgar Lungu’s motorcade on the Mongu-Limulunga road in April 2017.