PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
THE State told the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court yesterday that police could not release seized properties for United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema’s co-accused because the people who were sent to collect them had no proof of ownership for the items.
Last week, lawyers representing Hichilema and five others asked 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.
But according to defence lawyer Mulambo Haimbe, police have refused to release the seized properties despite the court’s order to surrender the items to the owners.
“Your honour, the record will show that during the last hearing of this matter, the court ordered and directed that the seized properties be given back to the accused. To that effect, a formal notification was made to the court and it ordered that the properties be given back to the owners,” Mr Haimbe said.
He said court orders should be respected because the refusal by police to release the properties amounted to intentional disrespect of an order of the court, which is contempt of the court in terms of Section 116 (1) of the Penal Code of the Laws of Zambia.
Mr Haimbe told the court that police officers Arthur Shonga and Mpazi Mbita should be summoned before the court to show cause why they should not be cited for contempt of court or indeed committed to prison on account of their actions.
But State advocate Bob Mwewa said the State does not disobey court orders, and that the misunderstanding that led to the properties not being released was the lack of evidence and proof of ownership from the people who were delegated to collect the vehicles and a mobile phone.
“We have taken note of the application by the defence. However, in curing this situation, we leave it to the court to decide on what to do,” Mr Mwewa said.
And delivering ruling, magistrate David Simusamba directed that the two police officers be summoned to court on Monday, May 15.
“I have heard the complaint by the defence team regarding an order that I made on 5th May, 2017. I, therefore, find it fit to summon the officers to appear before this court on Monday,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ruling on whether Hichilema and five others charged with treason should be committed to the High Court has been adjourned.
Magistrate Simusamba said he would on Monday announce when the ruling would be made.
In this matter, lawyers representing Hichilema have asked the court to ignore the certificate of committal to the High Court for commencement of trial arguing that it was issued on a bad charge and therefore it is null and void.
They also contended that the certificate was issued by the deputy chief State advocate instead of substantive Director of Public Prosecutions Lillian Shawa.