The State has discontinued a matter in which a 16-year-old juvenile was in court for walking passed a police station while ‘skimpily dressed’.
This was the matter in which the juvenile and her 28-year-old aunt, Mirriam Mwanza, were jointly charged with the offence of idle and disorderly persons.
It was alleged that on December 22, 2018, the juvenile in the company of her auntie, publicly conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause the breach of peace.
It was alleged that on the material day, the juvenile wore a short skirt and as she passed by Kamanga Police Station in the company of her auntie, an officer asked her why she was wearing mini skirt.
Her auntie challenged the officer for allowing another person who was dressed in a similar manner to pass through earlier, her reaction to the police’s question allegedly led to the apprehension of the two.
The two had pleaded not guilty.
And when the matter came up for commencement of trial before magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Monday, a State prosecutor informed the court that the State was not ready to proceed with trial because they had received instructions from the DPP chambers to have the matter discontinued.
But before magistrate Chanda could discharge the accused, she warned them to behave themselves, saying that women were supposed to conduct themselves with respect and integrity.
She added that the two should not find themselves in prison or police again.
“Before I make my order, you are 27 years meaning you are old so you are supposed to help the child. Already I have been given the facts, the way you behave is very important because you committed an offence. You have to change. You behave,” she said.
“You juvenile, how long have you stayed in prison? It’s not a good place. So whatever you did on that particular day, you know yourselves, you should not find yourselves in prison or police again. Women are supposed to conduct themselves with respect and integrity.”
Magistrate Chanda then discharged the matter and set the accused at liberty.
Speaking after court, Mwanza, while shedding tears of joy, expressed gratitude to God with the case’s outcome.
She recounted what occurred on the material day.
“On December, 22, I had gone paka Tower. My niece came to call me, saying that we should go and see the children at home. When we passed by the police station, the officers called her (the niece). She asked whether they were calling her and they accepted. That’s when she entered the police premises and they told her that ‘you are wearing a short dress get in the cells and remove your shoes’. That’s when I entered and asked what was happening. They told me that she was wearing a short dress. I told them to check out the dress that another woman was wearing. They said I should just be quiet,” she said.
Mwanza charged that the officers who arrested them indecently assaulted the juvenile by touching her breasts.
She added that the officers also assaulted them.
“I was just behind the cells which were open. Nina bwela nagwela muma cells. Bana bwela bakomako no nimanga mantambo ku manja na kumendo no manga uyu (niece) manja ku mbuyo na mendo. Benangu benzo mu gwila na maziba…(I fell in cells and the officers closed the cell doors and tied my hands and legs with a rope. They equally tied my niece. Some where even touching her breast),” she narrated before the two were taken away as they are still facing another charge of malicious damage to property in another court.
Meanwhile, former NGOCC chairperson Sara Longwe, who had also gone to show solidarity to the two, said Zambians were Constitutionally protected to wear anything they please.
“There was no case to start with. Because there is no dress code in Zambia. We have freedom of expression, we are Constitutionally protected. Everybody can wear anything. Miniskirt is not indecent. If we look at our tradition, our forefathers and mothers not less than 60 years ago, where dressed less than we were. And they didn’t consider themselves being naked. This is shameful for Zambia that we should always be talking about dressing. It’s a pity they didn’t say what exactly they did wrong, we will get to the bottom of it and it must stop. We are a free Zambia and we must enjoy our freedom,” said Longwe.