NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) vice-president Joseph Akafumba says it is unfair for the courts to issue a bench warrant of arrest on party president Chishimba Kambwili when the accused is still recovering from COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Lusaka Principal Resident Magistrate David Simusamba issued a bench warrant against the NDC leader for missing court in a matter where he is charged with forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to a public officer.
Addressing journalists at a press briefing, Akafumba wondered why the court wanted Kambwili to breach the 14 days mandatory quarantine.
“The rules by the Ministry of Health is that when you have tested positive, or you suspected to be COVID-19 positive, you need to be quarantined for 14 days. He has done that 14 days; he is still under quarantine and isolation. As to whether he has received another test to confirm that he is negative, no he has not done that. That is why he is still in isolation so that when he completes the 30 days, then he can get another test. Now, as to public appearance, I really don’t know the definition of public appearance, I have challenges here because this was footage, which was done in his house. When you are under quarantine and isolation you can still talk. The happy part is that he has gotten over the difficult times,” said Akafumba.
“So, we were taken aback! There was a danger, really, for him to have come out when he is still under isolation, it could not have been right. You must be very aware that Dora Siliya was in isolation from COVID, I think she was off for 30 days. Dr Chilufya, 30 days, he was off. I don’t know why they should be an exemption to CK that immediately after 14 days, he should have appeared in court. His sick note ended on Monday, Tuesday he was supposed to appear? It is not right! The Court did what they did, I don’t want to go into that because I will be part of lawyers. From the time he fell ill, he has never been here [in Lusaka]; he has been on the Copperbelt. Yesterday (Tuesday), we discussed with State Counsel Musa Mwenye, I am also aware that yesterday, he filed some documentation at court to see if the Magistrate can revisit that decision, which we find not to sit well even with the COVID rules. Given the latitude, and if things were normal, we would have loved president CK to rest even for the rest of the two weeks. So, it is our prayer that the papers that the State Counsel filed yesterday, the Honourable Magistrate Simusamba will have a change of heart. If the answer is no since he is under a warrant, we will have no choice, but to ask him to come to court.”
Meanwhile, NDC national chairperson Fr Richard Luonde confirmed during the same briefing that armed police officers were at Kambwili’s residence in Woodlands in a bid to arrest him following the bench warrant, but were told that Kambwili was actually on the Copperbelt.
“Our colleagues from law enforcement agencies came to execute the arrest warrant of our president, Chishimba Kambwili and the person that they found here is me. They came with a lot of guns, the AK47s, but what I appreciate from the officers is that they were disciplined. We discussed and told them that our President is not here. He left for the Copperbelt three weeks ago, where he has been recuperating from COVID-19. We pray that he is going to overcome that and go before the Magistrate for which he has been asked to appear on a Tuesday of next week. We pray that all will go well,” said Fr Luonde.