‘Dead’ bishop sureties grilled

THE State has urged the Kitwe Magistrate’s Court to compel sureties for Holy Fire Ministries Bishop Dominic Nyondo to avail documents confirming that the clergyman is indeed dead, failure to which an appropriate application in the matter will be made at the next sitting.
This appeal was made in the case in which Nyondo, who is facing charges of defilement, rape and indecent assault on women members of his church, failed to appear in court.
When the matter came up for continuation of trial before Kitwe Senior Resident Magistrate Daniel Musonda yesterday, State prosecutor Juma Banda told the court that he could not see the accused person in court.
His sureties, however, insisted that the clergyman is dead.
Last week, Bishop Nyondo’s relatives claimed that the clergyman had committed suicide by throwing himself into the Kafue River but police are treating the reports as a rumour and are still investigating.
Nyondo’s lawyer Gavu Nyirongo told the court that he had received reports that his client had committed suicide and he had to talk to officers investigating the matter who had indicated that they were treating the report as a rumour.
But Mr Banda said the sureties should show cause why the court should not cite them for contempt for failing to avail the accused person.
“As far as we are concerned, this suicide is just mere speculation. The sureties are duty-bound to avail the accused person to the court at all times and we feel this obligation has been breached,” Mr Banda said.
He said as far as the State is concerned, the bishop had merely absconded from court.
But the defence lawyer said it would not be proper for the State at this stage to affirmatively indicate that the sureties had breached their obligation because no conclusion had been arrived at as far as the suicide investigation was concerned.
He said sureties were not duty-bound to avail corpses to the court.
Mr Nyirongo urged the State to give the court an official position of the investigation in the alleged suicide.
And the sureties told the court that the accused person is dead as they even visited the house of mourning.
One of the sureties produced a note which Nyondo allegedly wrote before allegedly committing suicide.
But Mr Banda maintained that as far as the State was concerned, Nyondo was not dead and the sureties should avail the court with proper documents to prove their belief that the accused had died.
He said if they fail, the State would make a necessary application at the next sitting.
Magistrate Musonda adjourned the matter to September 12 this year for continued hearing and extended Nyondo’s bail.

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