PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
LUSAKA magistrate David Simusamba has set May 22 as the date for ruling on whether or not to refer the treason case involving United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and five others to the High Court.
And the Lusaka magistrate court has acquitted Hichilema in the case in which he is alleged to have insulted police officers on April 10, 2017.
When the matter came up yesterday, Magistrate Simusamba told the court that ruling in the treason case will be made next week Monday.
Lawyers representing Hichilema and five others have asked the court to ignore the certificate of committal to the High Court arguing it was issued on a bad charge and, therefore, null and void.
The lawyers have also contended that the certificate that was issued by the deputy chief State advocate instead of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lillian Shawa.
However, the State maintained that the office of the DPP has powers to delegate the roles, and it was not necessary to produce a written submission of such instruction.
“The office of the DPP is established by article 8 of the constitution of the Republic of Zambia as amended. Article 180 sub article 8 of the constitution provides that the functions of the DPP may be exercised by any other person authorised by the DPP under general specific instructions,” State prosecutor Bob Mwewa said.
He further submitted that the magistrate court had no authority to hear any matters concerning the treason case because it was no longer before it.
Recently, the DPP instructed that the case in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others are charged with treason be committed to the High Court.
And delivering judgement in the case in which Hichilema is alleged to have insulted police officers, magistrate Greenwell Malumani said the prosecution team failed to prove the guilt of the accused in the matter.
“The prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused person, and I acquit him accordingly,” he said.
Magistrate Malumani said the behaviour of the police in the matter was undesirable, adding that from the submissions made, it is clear that no investigations were conducted despite the country having a fully-fledged legal system.
He said that the evidence showed that all the four state witnesses exhibited serious contradictions and lack of professionalism, stating that their aim was to destroy evidence in the matter.
Magistrate Malumani said the law is clear on what constitutes insulting language, and that this is supported by many other cases.
Magistrate Malumani also said due to the state witnesses’ failure to show any evidence, police officers failed to prove why they arrested Hichilema, stating that anyone arrested will be treated as a suspect until proven guilty by the courts of law.
He said the law is clear that it is not the duty of police to convict people but take evidence to court which should lead to convictions.
Meanwhile, magistrate David Simusamba yesterday directed police officers who seized properties from the accused persons to release them within 2 hours.
This follows an application by lawyers representing Hichilema and five others asking the court to intervene in a matter in which a Samsung Galaxy S7 phone and two motor vehicles for some accused persons were allegedly seized by police without a seizure notice.