THE Livingstone Magistrates’ Court has acquitted Alliance for Community Action (ACA) executive director Laura Miti and her programmes manager Bornwell Mwewa who were accused of assaulting police officers.
The two were appearing before the Livingstone Magistrates’ Court on charges of disorderly conduct at a police station and assaulting a police officer.
Miti and Mwewa were alleged to have assaulted Woman Constable Fredah Simasho and detective Inspector Ephraim Silwamba on December 22, 2019 when they went to visit Fumba Chama popularly known as Pilato at the Livingstone Central Police Station after he was arrested on allegations of unlawful assembly.
Meanwhile, ACA has welcomed Miti and Mwewa’s acquittal and has further called on the State to immediately stop the persecution of civic actors who were doing their routine accountability work.
This is according to a statement issued by ACA Information and Advocacy Officer Jimmy Maliseni yesterday.
“ACA welcomes the acquittal of our Executive Director Laura Miti and Programmes Manager Bornwell Mwewa. The two were appearing before the Livingstone Magistrate Court charged with disorderly conduct at a police station and assaulting a police officer. The court has found both accused persons not guilty on all counts. Miti and Mwewa were detained on December 21, 2019 at the Livingstone Central Police station for the mere fact of checking on activist Chama Fumba alias Pilato who had earlier in the day been detained for conducting a workshop with fellow young people in Livingstone. This was a workshop administered by the ACA in support of Pilato’s Be Heard project which aimed at empowering young Zambians to engage with governance and accountability form an informed position,” he stated
“The court was very clear in acquitting the two, that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. It was further stated by the court that, prosecution witnesses contradicted each other’s testimonies so fundamentally that their version of events was difficult to believe.”
Maliseni stated that the continued harassment of civic actors only served to further diminish the now poor record of democratic practice as a country.
“For the ACA, this decision illustrates the continued shrinking of civic space in Zambia in which government continually makes it difficult for CSO actors and citizens to exercise their fundamental right to be heard and to assemble. The continued harassment of civic actors only serves to further diminish our now poor record of democratic practice as a country. Zambia was until the sustained abuse of police and court processes by the current government known for upholding basic human rights. The ACA calls on the state to immediately stop the persecution of civic actors doing their routine accountability work,” he stated.
Maliseni further stated that the harassment of innocent citizens comes at a great cost not only to the abused individuals but the state itself.
“This harassment of innocent citizens comes at a great cost not only to the abused individuals but the state itself. Having begun in December of 2019, this matter has been processed at great costs to the two individuals, the state, and our organization. Further, given the many pressing issues the country is facing, those wielding state power must preoccupy themselves with ensuring accountable management of public resources instead of persecuting people calling for accountable management of our resources,” stated Maliseni.
“The ACA wishes to thank the defense team for ably representing our staff. We also sincerely thank fellow civic actors, local and international partners, and citizens for their continued support. The unwavering support in the face of clear and present danger is most appreciated by the ACA.”