‘Mr Chipembele Kambilimbili,’ said the judge in solemn tones, ‘you have been charged with the offence, committed somewhere between 10th December 1982 and 31st March 1983, of failing to attach a postage stamp to a letter, contrary to the Postal Communications Act of 1863. Do you have anything to say in your defence?’
‘It is true My Lord,’ replied Kambilimbili, ‘and I must congratulate the police, mobile unit and special branch who arrived in force at my house in the early hours of November 19th, bravely breaking down my gate and front door in order to protect the security of the nation.’
As the whole court burst into laughter I whispered to Sara ‘this is another case that is going to be laughed out of court’.
‘Now that ZNBC is dead,’ I said, ‘people come here for their entertainment.’
‘Order, order,’ shouted the judge as the laughter died down. ‘Mr Kambilimbili, any more of your sarcasm and I shall find you guilty of contempt of court. But I notice that your contemptuous insolence does not disguise the fact that you admit that the envelope without a stamp was in fact found in your house.’
‘My Lord, under the Postal Communications Act it is an offence to post an envelope without a stamp, but the fact that the envelope was found in my house means I never posted it. And furthermore, even if I had posted it without a stamp, according to the British Act of 1863 I would be liable to a maximum fine of one penny.’
Laughter in court.
‘Order, order,’ shouted the judge. ‘If I have any more of this unseemly behaviour I shall clear the court.’
‘Oh no he won’t,’ whispered Sara. ‘A comedian always needs an audience.’
‘Mr Kambilimbili,’ continued the judge, ‘I am most obliged for your interpretation of the law. However I have to advise you that in this court it is I who have the duty of interpreting the law, and your duty is merely to suffer the consequence of my interpretation of it.’
‘My Lord,’ replied Mr Kambilimbili, ‘I am most obliged for your advice that the law is about to suffer the consequences of your interpretation of it.’
‘Very good, Mr Kambilimbili, I am pleased to see that you are at last beginning to realize the gravity of your predicament, because we must now proceed to the more serious charges against you. Inside the said envelope were discovered your tax returns for the year 1982-3. You are therefore charged with not submitting those tax returns and therefore not paying any tax for that year, in contravention of the Inland Revenue Act of 1894.’
‘My Lord, the tax form found in that envelope was wrongly filled in, and I had to employ an accountant to do the job properly and submit correct returns.’
‘But Mr Kambilimbili, the crucial question is whether you have any receipt to show that you paid your taxes for 1982-3?’
‘My Lord, I have looked everywhere but cannot find it.’
‘It may be my imagination,’ whispered Sara, ‘but the judge’s nose seems to be getting longer.’
‘Mr Kambilimbili,’ said the judge, ‘Your failure to produce a receipt leaves you open to the further charge of concealing evidence. Maybe I can help you to escape from your self-induced predicament. Can you bring your accountant before this court to testify that he submitted your tax returns?’
‘My Lord, unfortunately I cannot. He died in 2003.’
‘Really, Mr Kambilimbili, this is carrying concealment of evidence too far. I am hereby instructing the prosecutor to consider whether we have sufficient evidence here for a murder charge.’
‘My Lord,’ said Mr Kambimbili, ‘the accountant’s name was Mr Lupiya and he died in a car crash when I was out of the country.’
‘Mr Kambilimbili,’ said the judge wearily, ‘I am not interested in your claimed alibi because the murder charge is not yet before this court. I suggest you give your evidence to the coroner after the exhumation of the murder victim.’
‘I’m sure his nose is getting longer,’ Sara hissed. ‘More like a bloodhound.’
‘More like a kangaroo,’ I suggested.
‘Mr Kambilimbili,’ said the judge, ‘Quite apart from the pending murder charge, I should warn you that the penalty for concealing evidence carries a maximum sentence of five years. In addition there is the problem of repaying the missing tax which, together with accrued interest and penalties for late payment, would undoubtedly add up to a total of many millions. Inevitably all your companies would have to be liquidated to meet your tax arrears. Do you have anything to say in your defence?’
But before Mr Kambilimbili could open his mouth a man in a black suit and dark glasses pushed his way to the front of the court and, ignoring the judge, whispered in the ear of the prosecutor, who then immediately stood up and said ‘The prosecution is entering a nolle prosequi!’
‘What!’ squealed the judge, ‘a nolle prosequi! That is not in my script! I quit!’
So saying, he jumped up onto the bench in one bound, and then with another mighty bound he went sailing out through the window.’
‘Hurray!’ Everybody cheered.
‘Ha ha,’ laughed Sara. ‘The Kangaroo Court was too ridiculous for the Kangaroo!’
(Read Kalaki’s articles every Thursday, only in Diggers)