NEWS from Kasama is that the State has entered another nolle prosequi in a matter involving UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka and three others. When Mr Mucheleka and his fellow UPND members, Elias Mubanga, Samuel Ngwira and Chishimba Bwalya were first arrested, the State was very aggressive. The accused were kept in remand prison for weeks, and denied bail on grounds that the charge leveled against them was non-bailable. They made the whole country believe that these were criminals and that there was enough evidence to convict them.
But like we predicted in September last year that the Mucheleka case would be disposed of through a nolle prosequi, it has come to pass. This is a signature ending of all politically motivated criminal charges slapped on innocent people. In that editorial opinion, we also observed that the Mucheleka case exemplified what Director of Public Prosecutions Lillian Siyunyi said a few months ago that sometimes, her office finds it necessary to prosecute a case in ‘public’ interest, even when there is no evidence.
Here we are! Just like that, Mucheleka has paid the price; detained and humiliated like a common criminal because, in the eyes of the State, it was in ‘public’ interest to subject him to this baseless torture. There was no evidence against Mucheleka, but it was necessary, under PF law, to satisfy “public interest”, which public, only the PF and the DPP know.
It can no longer be argued that the State arrested and charged Mucheleka together with his colleagues, not because they had evidence against them, but because they wanted to instill fear in them. The State’s desire was to kill Mucheleka’s spirit so that his political activities in the region where he comes from can be slowed down. Among politicians, these fights and acts of intimidation are common, but it becomes a big problem when the office of the Director of Public Prosecution is involved in political battles.
The DPP and the police who arrested Mucheleka knew that he was innocent from the beginning. They had no case against him. If they had, they would not have discharged him, they would not let him walk to freedom. Mucheleka and his men did not cause malicious damage to any property. We know that it is very complicated for citizens who are watching from a distance to know that their government is up to no good. We are under siege as a country but, unfortunately, we do not seem to have the capacity to collectively emancipate ourselves from this continued oppression at the hands of the Patriotic Front.
The charge of aggravated robbery is very serious. This is what a known PF cadre was involved in. He attacked a police station, armed with a gun, beat up officers on duty and stole money from them. But this cadre was protected by the system because he is a close ally of the President; this cadre was protected because he is a front of senior PF officials in illegal activities such as the smuggling of Mukula.
Mucheleka did not do anything of that nature. He was innocent, but the State decided to make him serve a ‘prison sentence’ for weeks and deprived him access to his wife and children, only to come and end the case with a nolle. This is not something that we should be tolerating in a democracy; this is not how citizens must be treated in a Christian nation.
What is happening in this country is very sad. We are seeing a lot of uncouth maneuvers in the justice system meant to advance the political agenda of the party in power. State House and the Ministry of Home Affairs are doing a lot of damage to the justice system in the process of fighting political opponents of the Patriotic Front.
We should not allow the executive to overstretch its authority over the judiciary in a manner that the Patriotic Front has done. This defeats the principle of separation of powers. We should not allow the Edgar Lungu-led executive to dictate to the police who must be arrested and detained without bail or control the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
We want a director of Public Prosecutions at NPA, not a director of Nolle Prosequis.