CSO’s petition Chief Justice Mambilima over Sunday Chanda’s attacks on Magistrate Zulu
The Action for Community Action and other CSOs have written to the Chief Justice Irene Mambilima over PF Media Director Sunday Chanda’s statement on the Judiciary and Magistrate Exnorbit Zulu.
The NGO’s feel Mr Chanda over stepped his limit when he issued a statement condemning Magistrate Zulu’s order that State House aide Silon Miti be arrested over his links to the Kapoko court case.
“We write to bring to your attention the captioned subject. Following the Supreme Court of Zambia’s recent citing of Chikondi Foundation President, Bishop John H Mambo, and Mr Gregory Chifire for contempt of court for commenting on a court judgment in the matter of Savenda Management Services Vs Stanbic Bank Limited, a matter that had been duly disposed of, we the undersigned civil society organisations and civic actors are of the view that a precedent has been set in which individuals who comment on matters that have been disposed of, or in court, will be cited for contempt of court,” read part of the letter.
“While we, as CSOs, have always been of the view that once a case is disposed of, it is no longer subjudice and therefore those who comment on it are not in contempt of court, we are convinced that the direction the highest court in the land has taken in the Savenda Management Services vs. Stanbic Bank Limited case must be seen to be applied fairly until clarity on what constitutes contempt of court is achieved,” they stated.
“The statement we bring to your attention attacks the judgment delivered on the Henry Kapoko case by Magistrate Zulu and the Magistrate himself. In the interest of fair play, we the undersigned civil society organisations do therefore request your office to investigate this statement for possible contempt of court by Sunday C. Chanda, Media Director of the Patriotic Front.”
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU), an umbrella body of all students union in Zambia, has expressed concern that the order by Choma-based magistrate, Exnorbit Zulu, to arrest of Dr. Simon Miti, is suggestive the court may have pronounced him guilty of corruption without having been heard.
ZANASU President, Misheck Kakonde, said the students’ umbrella body which subscribes to the legal principle that judicial officers “must not descend into the arena” by taking sides in matters of litigation or engage into the messier parts of the courtroom debate require support of the public in adjudication of cases of corruption but must do so with fairness to both the accusers and the accused.
“The High Court of Zambia, in the 1973 case of Moses Mwenya vs the People where a magistrate directed clerk of the court to investigate the matter and to report his findings back to the magistrate, guided that ‘it is of little consequence that the magistrate in actual fact conducted the trial fairly and justly so long as right-minded people thought or might have thought that the trial magistrate on account of what went wrong prior to the commencement of the proceedings would be partial in the matter,’ ” said Mr. Kakonde
He said the magistrate took upon himself the position of an accuser or alleger in a criminal matter by ordering of the arrest and trial of a state witness, which role is a preserve of the State through office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
“It is clear that Dr. Miti and any other person may not receive fair trial before the court when the court itself is one deciding who must be brought before it to answer criminal charges,” said Mr. Kakonde
The ZANASU Chief said the students’ body will continue to advocate for fair treatment of all persons and clear separation of powers among all arms of government.
“Those who are tasked to take persons before the court must be allowed to independently do their job and the courts that are tasked to dispense justice must be encouraged to dispense justice both for the accuser and the accused, without taking sides,” he said.
Source: Lusaka Times