LUSAKA Magistrate Alice Walusiku has sent New Labour Party leader Fresher Siwale back to detention after revoking his bail for failure to appear in court on three occasions.
Magistrate Walusiku has, however, issued fresh bail conditions which Siwale has to meet before he can be released.
In this matter, Siwale is alleged to have on April 22, 2018, with intent to bring the name of former president Edgar Lungu into ridicule, published defamatory matter by word of mouth to which he said “the President of the Republic of Zambia is not the actual Edgar Chagwa Lungu but Jonathan Mutawale, he must be arrested for having three National Registration Cards, he is an identity thief”.
Siwale was however found with a case to answer and put on his defence.
When the matter came up for return of the bench warrant and commencement of defence, Thursday, Siwale told the court that he wasn’t going to court on the days in question because he was down with COVID-19.
He said the extent to which COVID-19 hit him made it impossible for him to attend court as he had loss of strength, shortness of breath and memory loss.
Siwale said he presented himself before court on August 25 and two more dates but the court was indisposed at the time.
He told the court that prior to contracting COVID-19, he was rearrested on June 19, this year over the same matter and his house was searched and his phones and laptop seized, leaving him with no means of communication.
When asked why his surety wasn’t before court, he responded saying he did not communicate with the surety because his gadgets were seized.
He further told the court that he only had one surety, Derrick Sinjela, following the death of his other surety, Mike Mulongoti.
Siwale then apologised to the court and prayed that the court accepts his apology.
In her ruling, Magistrate Walusiku said she had taken note of the reasons advanced by Siwale but noted that having one surety was not sufficient and given that the case was from 2019, it went against the bail conditions which required that he has two working sureties.
She said the remaining surety also failed to do his duty of presenting the accused or appearing before court in the absence of the accused person because it was unacceptable for documents such as sick notes to be presented to court by the lawyers.
Magistrate Walusiku therefore revoked his bail and granted him K10,000 bail in his own recognizance and two working sureties in the like sum.
She however said Sinjela must not be among the sureties.
“Bail is insufficient and has become invalid; I set aside the said bail and grant a new bail,” said Magistrate Walusiku.
The matter was then adjourned to November 23 and 24, for defence.
She further ordered that Siwale remains remanded until he meets the bail conditions.