CAROLINE KALOMBE, Lusaka
THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has applied to take over prosecution of the matter in which United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema wants the court to cite Minister of Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili for contempt.
Hichilema and the five others are jointly charged with treason and have been committed to the High Court for trial.
When the case came up for plea before magistrate Ireen Wishimanga, State advocate Mariah Matandala told the court that the DPP intended to take over the prosecution of the case.
However, Hichilema’s lawyers said they could not argue the application in the absence of their client.
But Reverend Sumaili’s lawyers, Eric Silwamba and Lubinda Linyama, argued that the issue on how the matter was to proceed in terms of the prosecution was important.
They submitted that the issue of the legal practitioners who were to prosecute the matter after the DPP had indicated that she had taken over the case was supposed to be determined.
They said the development of the DPP taking over the case was important on how the case would be handled and that the issue could not be glossed over.
Meanwhile, Hichilema’s lawyers contended that it was premature to deal with the issue of the takeover of the case by the DPP.
They submitted that it was important that their client was present before court and that the court’s order to have him present was being disobeyed.
The lawyers said the order by Ms Wishimanga directing that Hichilema and five others jointly charged with him be remanded in Lusaka Central Prison, known as Chimbokaila, was not being obeyed by the Zambia Police Service and Zambia Correctional Service.
They urged the court to order an inquiry into why the order was not being complied with.
Ms Wishimanaga said she would give the prison and police officials the benefit of the doubt but that they should ensure that the six appear before her when the case comes up tomorrow.
And Ms Wishimanga said Hichilema’s lawyers should be heard on their objection to the DPP taking over their client’s case.