GOVERNANCE activist Brebner Changala says the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has no moral right to penalize people who withdraw court cases after being bribed by suspects because she is also guilty of withdrawing cases in the interest of politicians via nolle prosequis.
Commenting on the DPP’s proposal to amend the law to enable her office start charging people who are in the habit of recanting court statements or withdrawing cases after being bribed by suspects, Changala said the DPP should start by addressing herself to the complaints people had been making about her work.
“I must first say that her observation is timely and very important and I hope the powers that be are listening to her agony. But I must also hasten to say that the office of the DPP is equally an office of serious concern in that there are many cases that go to court that give the people of Zambia hope that certain misdemeanours, especially corrupt cases and white collar crime would face due diligence of the law. The DPP is equally a culprit that has been issuing nolles like confetti at a wedding ceremony. So she’s in the same league with those who withdraw cases, and probably she is the ring leader or indeed the office of the DPP is in the lead in subverting justice. That is the office that is abusing nolle prosequi even in matters where evidence is bound. But due to political pressure, political connections, those who are found wanting are escaping the wrath of the law. So she cannot completely clear herself from this dilemma. Whereas her observation is highly commendable, she must also remove the log in her eye before she removes a speck in those who withdraw cases and frustrating the wheels of justice,” Changala said.
Changala challenged the DPP to stop abusing nolle prosequis.
“The office of the DPP has been abusing nolles in cases where they are supposed to completely discharge a person. But because they don’t want to pay compensation for wrongful arrests, they are using a nolle as a caveat. A nolle would hang on somebody’s neck probably the rest of their lives. I Brebner Changala, I am a recipient of eight nolle prosquis. I have eight nolles in matters where the state has no case and in the midst of a matter, they enter a nolle so that I cannot seek compensation. The case of HH (treason case) is one of them or one of the many. So that office of the DPP is being used to settle scores and the DPP must answer to that kind of abuse. She must explain why they don’t completely discharge an individual who is wrongly arrested, wrongly detained and to some extent tortured. She must answer those,” said Changala.
“She must act judiciously and observe the law; where they have detained somebody wrongly and they know they don’t have a case, you completely discharge that person. But hiding behind a nolle is injustice and our law makers must look at the powers of the DPP because those powers are being abused by our politicians because that office of the DPP has been highly politicized and she is not immune to political pressure, she cannot hide that she’s independent, she’s not independent because most of her decisions are highly questionable. So we need to have safeguards even in the office of the DPP.”