THE eight UPND supporters accused of killing two PF youths in Lusaka’s Kanyama Township have asked the court to discharge them if the State has failed to provide witnesses in the matter.

And Lusaka High Court judge Charles Zulu has cautioned the prosecution against dictating to the court when it should sit to hear the matter, saying the court is strongly allergic to adjournments.

In this matter, the eight UPND supporters are charged with the murder of two PF supporters after allegedly raiding a PF campaign centre in Kanyama township on July 30, 2021.

The accused persons are; Samson Mumba, Kelvin Banda, John Mwanza, Njekwa Puteho, Reuben Nalikana, Mwendalubi Namushi and John Bwalya, while two of the accused persons are juveniles.

The accused persons are charged with two counts of murder.

It is alleged that the eight on July 30, 2021 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together, murdered Danny Kasongo, a PF member.

It is also alleged that the eight on the same day jointly and whilst acting together murdered Davies Kabunda, also a PF member.

However, when the matter came up for trial before judge Zulu, Tuesday, the State informed the court that it was not ready to proceed with trial due to the non-availability of witnesses.

The State further informed the court that summons were sent and even calls were made to the witnesses but they were not before court.

They added that as such, the case should be adjourned.

However, the defence opposed to the application for an adjournment, saying the case had been adjourned four times at the instance of the state for the same reason of not having witnesses.

Defence lawyer Clement Andeleki said his clients have been in custody since June 2, 2021 at the instance of the State, as such their fundamental freedoms and liberty, and their human rights stood curtailed by what he described as extrajudicial detention.

“We are not happy my Lord as the defence. We are injured by the conduct of the State as it is very heavy to stand accused. You are a custodian of human rights, my Lord. This honourable court has a duty to protect fundamental human rights from arbitral detentions but using extrajudicial means. You have power my Lord to set the accused persons free under the laws of Zambia. We pray that you invoke your powers to set the accused persons at liberty,” he said.

Andeleki said should the court be inclined to adjourn the matter for the last time, he hoped that the court sets tomorrow (today), the whole day, to hear the matter or set the accused persons free.

Ruling on the application, Judge Zulu said the court was strongly allergic to adjournments, adding that the story by the State of not having witnesses was the same from June last year.

He said the state should have been prepared by now.

Judge Zulu reluctantly adjourned the matter and told the state that it cannot dictate when the court should sit.

“Again today the same narration and apart from that, the court is being told when to sit. This is undesirable. Take this caution seriously. We will adjourn to tomorrow, 09:00 hours for continued trial,” he said.

The case comes up, April 20, 2022, for continued trial.