UPND cadres overpowered police, court told

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:40:00 +0000

By Chikumbi Katebe

UNITED Party for National Development cadres outnumbered police officers stationed at the High Court buildings and overpowered them during the December 2016 riot in which the building was damaged, Lusaka Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

The cadres allegedly invaded the High Court grounds and threw stones that left windows and vehicles damaged at the premises, High Court registrar Kelvin Limbani has testified.

Mr Limbani said the police had cordoned the High Court entrance to screen those entering the premises during the UPND presidential petition hearing on December 15, 2016, but that the cadres, who had initially been pushed out of the court premises, charged towards the police.

He was testifying before Lusaka Magistrate Nthandose Chabala yesterday in the case against 10 UPND cadres charged with riotous behavior following confusion at the court during the presidential petition hearing in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his vice president for administration Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba attended a chamber matter before High Court Judge Mwila Chitabo.

Mr Limbani said while it was no offence to gain access to a public place such as courts, police were mandated to provide law and order at all times including at such public places.

He said police had cordoned the entrance to the High Court to regulate the number of people entering.

“The police were not preventing anyone from accessing the premises. They controlled people who were entering the premises. If you are stopped by a lawful officer then it becomes an offence to enter,” he said.

Mr Limbani said the police were outnumbered by the crowd and retreated to the Supreme Court building and that teargas or pepper spray was thrown to try and disperse the huge crowd that invaded the premises.

And Judiciary Chief Administrator Nalishebo Imataa submitted that the violence which left property damaged at the High Court was instigated by UPND cadres who invaded the premises.

In this case Lubinda Simonda, 35, Namasiku Kalaluka, 21, Dereck Sikakando, 22, Philemon Mbewe, 64, Emmanuel Malilwe, 24, Ackim Bote, 56, Alfred Habene, 64, Progress Simubali, 45, Nyambe Nalikena, 21 and Chipo Sichimu have been  charged with riotous behaviour.

Ms Imataa, 38, said she was informed about the violence that occurred at the High Court grounds as she was out of station at the time of the incident but that when she arrived to check the premises, it was discovered that some property was damaged including a Judiciary vehicle which had a shattered windscreen.

She said she found stones that were allegedly used lying around the court premises including along drive ways, as evidence of commotion that had taken place.

“There were stones all over the place. One of the Judiciary vehicles had a windscreen smashed. I went to the High Court building and saw that several other items were damaged,” she said.

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