By MWILA NTAMBI
KITWE High Court Judge Catherine Makungu has issued a bench warrant against United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema (below) for deliberately missing court.
This is in a matter in which lawyers representing acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda have applied to the Kitwe High Court to cite Mr Hichilema for contempt of court for allegedly commenting on the acting Chief Justice position when the matter is still in court.
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has challenged the appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as Chief Justice.
When the matter came up for hearing in the contempt application case yesterday, Justice Makungu noted that Mr Hichilema was absent.
â€œI am convinced that he is aware of these proceedings and was aware of them even before the matter last came up for hearing because I do not see how his advocates would come to court without their clientâ€™s instructions but with copies of the application since it has been proven that the application was in accordance with my order for substituted service advertised in the Daily Mail of 28 and 29 July, 2014,â€ Justice Makungu said.
She said Mr Hichilema must have seen the advertisements and that the purpose of serving such applications was to make the respondent or alleged contemnor aware of the application so that the court may give him a chance to be heard.
â€œIn this case, he is aware of the proceedings and has appointed a firm of advocates to represent him and I have given him a chance to be heard. I will, therefore, not allow him to continue delaying these proceedings by deliberately not accompanying his advocates to court,â€ Justice Makungu said.
She said she would not condone the way Mr Hichilemaâ€™s lawyer was handling the matter and advised him to properly advise his client from now onwards.
Justice Makungu said she had no intentions of embarrassing Mr Hichilema and the best he should have done was just to appear before her instead of risking to be embarrassed if a bench warrant was issued against him.
â€œHowever, in the interest of justice, I hereby order that a bench warrant returnable on August 26, 2014 at 09:00 hours be issued against him immediately,â€ she said.
Ever since Ms Chibesakundaâ€™s lawyers applied that Mr Hichilema be cited for contempt for allegedly issuing a statement on a matter that is active before court, he has not availed himself to the court on the two occasions that the matter has come up for hearing.
By MWILA NTAMBI