There was mayhem at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court complex yesterday when some UPND supporters attempted to shield Lusaka Province UPND Chairman Obvious Mwaliteta from being re-arrested after the Court discharged him in a matter where he was accused of being in possession of offensive weapons.
The UPND supporters attempted to snatch Mwaliteta from the police, forcing the officers to fire more than four warning shots in an effort to disperse the cadres.
In this matter, Mwaliteta and James Sichomba, both of Kafue, were charged with being in possession of offensive weapons.
Mwaliteta and Sichomba were arrested by Police in Kafue on March 27 during the Kafue District Council Chairperson by-election.
Previously, Lusaka Magistrate Alice Walusiku directed the State to make a necessary application, objecting to the move to take the matter back for re-allocation after the High Court ruled that it should be tried in Kafue.
However, on Thursday last week, some plain clothed policemen attempted to re-arrest Mwaliteta and his co-accused on assumption that a nolle prosequi had been entered in the matter.
The duo were only saved after some senior police officers ordered the police motor vehicle which was driving them to Kafue to come back upon realizing that the matter had only been adjourned to Monday.
And when the matter came up, Monday, State Prosecutor Christopher Nyambe applied that the matter be discharged pursuant to section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code to allow the State to put its house in order.
However, defence lawyer Zevyanji Sinkala informed the court that he had filed a notice of motion for a Constitutional reference pursuant to section 28 (2) (a) of the Constitution, and that he expected the State to respond to his application.
“They are making an application on top of another when they ought to respond to the application I have made,” he said.
However, magistrate Walusiku guided that the High Court had already ruled on the matter, adding that the defence’s application had no place in her court.
She therefore discharged both accused persons and set them free.
“Since there is a ruling by the High Court that the matter be tried in Kafue, this court was inclined to that ruling and as such, the State was to make an appropriate application which has been made this morning. That the case will be withdrawn under Section 88 of the CPC for them to put their house in order,” magistrate Walusiku said.
“Therefore, the application by the defence cannot be entertained because the case has no place in this court as guided by the High Court. It is for this reason that I grant the application by the State to have the charge withdrawn against the accused persons under section 88 of the CPC. The accused persons are discharged.”
However, the moment Mwaliteta and Sichomba stepped out of the court room, some plain-clothed police officers surrounded them in an attempt to re-arrest them, but some UPND cadres tried to stop the officers.
It was at this point that push and pull skirmishes came into play by the cadres and police officers.
The officers tried to use tasers on the cadres but to no avail.
At this point, other plain-clothed police officers with AK-47 rifles joined in and fired about four warning shots in trying to disperse the supporters.
The officers finally managed to drag Mwaliteta and Sichomba to the police vehicles where they bundled them and drove them to Kafue.
And one of the officers who remained behind escaped lynching as some cadres tried to stone him.
One of the cadres was injured in the fracas.
Meanwhile, Mwaliteta appeared before Kafue magistrate Kawama Mwamfuli who granted him K4,500 bail in his own recognizance after pleading not guilty to the same offense.
In this matter, it was alleged that on March 27, this year, in Kafue district of Lusaka Province, Mwaliteta and Sichomba jointly and whilst acting together, had in their possession offensive weapons or materials namely; two improvised machetes, a metal hoe, one wooden pick handle, two stones and a knife, without lawful excuse.