UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his five co-accused have pleaded not guilty to the charge of treason.

The opposition leader who has been in detention for four months appeared in the High Court in Lusaka to take plea before Ndola based judge Charles Chanda.

He said he understood the charge, but was not guilty.

“I strongly deny the charge”, said Hichilema as his co accused followed suit.

The court then set Wednesday August 16, 2017 as date of commencement of trial, while the accused persons remain in custody.

The Director of Public Prosecutions applied to amend the information on the indictment from “in Lusaka Province and Mongu” to “Lusaka Province and Western Province”, and the court granted it as there was no objection from the defence.

Chairman for the coalition of democracy in Zimbabwe, South Africa’s member of parliament and Democratic Alliance shadow minister for International relations, Steven Mokgalapa and several other regional politicians attended the treason hearing and expressed solidarity for Hichilema.

Also in attendance were several UPND members of parliament, party vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, Chief Mukuni and other traditional leaders as well as family members of the accused persons.

Prosecution team:
Lillian Siyunyi – Director of Public Prosecutions
R. N Kuzwayo – Chief State Advocate
C.M Hambayi – Deputy Chief State Advocate
M. M B Matandala – Deputy Chief State Advocate
C.K Sakata – State Advocate
Paul Muwembe – State Advocate
M. Akasenke – State Advocate
P. Nyangu – State Advocate

Defense team:
Vincent Malambo SC – Malambo and Company
Mulambo Haimbe – Malambo and Company
John Sangwa SC – Simeza Sangwa and Associates
Nelly Mutty – Lukona Chambers
Kashimba Mutty – Lukona Chambers
Dr Henry Mbushi – HBM Advocates
Chad Muleza – Muleza Mwiimbu and Associates
Jack Mwiimbu – Muleza Mwiimbu and Associates
Zevyanji Sinkala – Muleza Mwiimbu and Associates
Nchimunya Mwange – Muleza Mwiimbu and Associates
Nathaniel Inambao – ICM Legal Practitioners
Martha Mushipe – Mushipe and Associates
Laston Mwanabo – LMK
Paul Katupisha – Milner and Paul Advocates
Keith Mweemba – Keith Mweemba Advocates
Mitelo Mwiinga – Keith Mweemba Advocates
Natasha Hadunka – Keith Mweemba Advocates
Christopher Mundia Junior – CIM Mundia and Company
Marshall Muchende

Meanwhile, UPND supporters chanted “we want change” after the court session ended.

And HH was taken back to Lusaka Central Prison amidst tight security leaving journalists no chance of filming him.

UPND supporters at Lusaka High Court during HH’s treason case on August 14, 2017 – picture by Tenson Mkhala