Drunk in Charge

‘Mr Jameson Kadansa,’ said the judge, as he leant forward towards the accused, ‘you have been charged with various offences, the first of which is that you have been found drunk in charge of the Alcoholic Fright Bus Company. You are the president of this company, is that correct?’

As the accused swayed rather unsteadily on his feet, up jumped his defense counsel. ‘M’Lord, it is the policy of the Alcoholic Fright Company that the president will never answer questions, but instead employs a spokesperson to speak in his defense.’

‘Huh huh,’ declared the judge. ‘This court is not subject to the policies of the Alcoholic Fright Company, but is instead subject to the principles of jurisprudence where an accused person is expected to answer questions concerning his actions and conduct.’

‘With respect, M’Lord, it is a constitutional right that no accused person can be compelled to bear witness against himself. Therefore my client has elected to remain silent.’
‘Huh,’ scoffed the judge, ‘if he is scared of incriminating himself, then this court will be entitled to draw its own conclusions.’

‘M’Lord, on that observation I have three points. Firstly, his refusal to confirm that he is president of the company does not suggest guilt, since being a president is not an offence. Secondly, the company is not refusing to answer questions, since the president’s spokesperson will speak on his behalf. Thirdly, it is not an offence to be drunk in charge of a bus company, only to be drunk in charge of a bus.’

‘Huh,’ grunted the judge, ‘I suggest you confine yourself to the defense counsel’s role of adducing evidence, and leave judging to the judge. Now where is this spokesperson?’

‘I call Mr Amiss Chancer to the witness box,’ said the prosecutor.

‘Mr Chancer,’ said the prosecutor, ‘there have been numerous reports and allegations that Alcoholic Fright buses are being driven by drunken drivers who over-speed, terrorize other road users and cause accidents.’

‘M’Lord,’ replied Chancer, ‘these reports have always been very distressing to our dear president, who has always spoken against drunkenness and urged bus drivers to drink less, especially when driving.’

‘But why,’ asked the prosecutor, ‘does the company continue to employ drunken drivers?’

‘M’Lord,’ explained Chancer, ‘ours is a democratic company, so we allow passengers to choose their own driver from amongst themselves. My president has always appealed to passengers to choose a sober person, but of course we cannot interfere with their freedom of choice.’

‘Shouldn’t your president take firm control of the company?’ wondered the prosecutor.

‘M’Lord, my president is not a dictatorial person who would impose drivers upon the passengers, he is a very humble and democratic person.’

‘I put it to you,’ said the prosector, ‘that your Alcoholic bus company employs n’gwan’gwazi to offer chibuku and kachasu to entice passengers to get on its buses, and that is why everybody on board is drunk, including the driver.’

‘M’Lord, these are just scurrilous fake news stories posted on social media by our rival company, Up and Down Buses.’

‘There are reports of n’gwan’gwazi announcing that a bus is going to Livingstone but the passengers wake up to find themselves in Chipata.’

‘I have already explained,’ said Chancer, ‘that the passengers themselves decide on the destination of the bus.’

‘Is it not the case,’ continued the prosecutor, ‘that your drivers are so intoxicated that they have neither vision nor sense of direction.’

‘In our democratic buses, vision and direction is the responsibility of the passengers.’
‘Does your president provide the company with any vision and direction?’

‘Certainly not. The company just provides buses and fuel. It is for the passengers to decide where to go.’

‘I put it to you, Mr Chancer, that your company employs kaponya armed with pangas at all bus stations to frighten and chase any passenger who dares to board an Up and Down bus.’

‘M’Lord, our Alcoholic Militia is used only to protect our passengers from the Up and Down thugs.’

‘And what does your president say about this warfare?’

‘M’Lord, the president is a non-violent and humble man who constantly prays to God to help us bring peace and sanity.’

‘Mr Chancer, witnesses have testified in this court that the Alcoholic Fright Company claims in its annual accounts that it pays $2 million for each bus instead of the normal price of $200 thousand. By this means the company declares zero profit and therefore pays no dividend to its shareholders or tax to the treasury.’

‘M’Lord,’ bleated Mr Chancer, ‘these buses are expensive because they have sophisticated suspension systems capable of withstanding Chinese roads.’

‘I put it to you, Mr Chancer, that money creamed off from these fake deals enables all the members of the Alcoholic Board to have drunken parties every night. They are drunk in charge of the bus company just as the drivers are drunk in charge of the buses.’

‘I have heard enough,’ declared the judge. ‘I find all the accused guilty as charged and sentence Mr Jameson Kadansa, president of Alcoholic Fright, to …’

But at that moment the court was invaded by a gang of twenty panga-wielding kaponya who picked up the judge and threw him screaming out of the window.

Now at last the president of Alcoholic Fright addressed the court. ‘Action,’ he said, ‘speaks louder than words.’

         

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