PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
RULING on whether treason-charged United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others should be committed to the High Court for trial or not has been adjourned to tomorrow.
When the matter came up yesterday, Lusaka magistrate Betty Malupenga informed the court that presiding magistrate David Simusamba was unwell and adjourned ruling to tomorrow when magistrate Simusamba is expected back.
“I wish to inform the court that the magistrate is unwell. Therefore, this matter will come up for ruling on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The accused persons will continue to be in custody,” magistrate Malupenga said.
And one of the lawyers representing Hichilema and five others, Jack Mwiimbu, told the court that their clients were anxious to know the outcome of the ruling.
“Your honour, as you are aware, as a defence team, we were ready to proceed. As you know, the offence is non bailable, and there is anxiety among our clients,” Mr Mwiimbu said.
In this matter, lawyers representing Hichilema and five others have asked the court to ignore Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lillian Siyuni’s certificate of committal to the High Court, arguing that it was issued on a bad charge and is, therefore, null and void.
According to submissions before the court, the defence lawyers have contended that the committal certificate was issued by the deputy chief State advocate instead of the DPP herself.
However, the State has maintained that the DPP’s office has powers to delegate its functions, and it was not necessary to produce a written submission of such an instruction.
“The office of the DPP is established by Article 8 of the Constitution of Zambia. 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.