PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
THE Lusaka Magistrate’s Court has thrown out an application by United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema to have the treason charge against him quashed.
This follows an application by Hichilema’s lawyers asking the court to quash the charge stating that the indictment was barred at law and did not have elements constituting it to be a treason charge.
Hichilema’s lawyers also asked the court to separate the charge of treason from two others of using insulting language and disobedience of lawful orders.
The court further granted the defence an application for a preliminary inquiry.
Delivering ruling yesterday, Lusaka magistrate Greenwell Malumani said his mandate was limited because treason could only be tried by the High Court.
Magistrate Malumani said he could not quash such an indictment but had an option to open an inquiry.
“In light of the foregoing, the purported treason charge exists in a vacuum and requires that details are furnished,” he said.
He, however, said the initial indictment presented to court did not constitute a treasonable offence as it lacked overt acts.
Magistrate Malumani also ruled that count two of using insulting language and three of disobeying lawful orders be separated from the indictment.
He further directed the police to institute investigations into the unknown person who visited Hichilema at night and allegations of torture of accused persons.
The magistrate also directed the Zambia Correctional Service to allow Hichilema access to reading materials following his complaint that he was not allowed to do so.
“The law is very clear on the accused persons. They have rights which are envisaged under the constitution which prohibit extra judicial punishment,” magistrate Malumani said.
He also allowed the State to submit a fresh indictment of treason against Hichilema.
At this point, the State substituted the indictment accompanying it with a fresh inclusion of overt acts committed by Hichilema.
Particulars of the treason offence are that between April 5 and 8, 2017 in Lusaka and Mongu, Hichilema and five others, jointly and whilst acting together with other unknown persons, did endeavour to carry out by force an enterprise to usurp the executive powers of the State in a matter of public and general nature by overt acts.
Details of the first overt act are that on April 5, 2017, Hichilema together with others conspired to mobilise an advance party to ensure that he was to be accorded the status of President of Zambia at the Kuomboka ceremony in Mongu.
In the second overt act, particulars are that on April 8, 2017, Hichilema and over 60 other unknown people and being on a convoy of motor vehicles on the Mongu–Limulunga road, did obstruct the presidential motorcade, an act that was likely to cause death or grievous harm to the President, in order to usurp the executive powers of the State.
However, the matter was referred to magistrate David Simusamba.
And appearing before magistrate Simusamba, Hichilema and five others said they understood the charge but could not take plea because the offence is only triable in the High Court.
Hichilema’s lawyers have since filed an application asking the court to grant the accused persons a preliminary inquiry.
However, the State asked for an adjournment stating that it needed time to effectively respond to the application.
Meanwhile, Hichilema, 55, Hamusonde Hamaleka, 41, Muleya Hachinda, 52, Laston Mulilanduba, 45, Pretorius Haloba, 58, and Wallace Chakawa, 57, pleaded not guilty to offences of disobedience of lawful orders and use of insulting language.
Magistrate Malumani granted them K10,000 bail and two working sureties each.
However, the accused persons will remain in custody as they are facing the treason charge which is non-bailable.
The matter involving the two other charges has been adjourned to May 10 and 11, 2017 for commencement of trial, while the treason case resumes today.