WE do not agree with the Minister of Justice, Mr Mulambo Haimbe in which he tries to defend the long period that former Patriotic Front deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri has been incarcerated on account of a murder charge.
Mr Haimbe has tried to explain the injustice about Ms Phiri’s long detention without appearing in court that she is facing a non-bailable offence.
He then gives a lecture that for anyone who is facing a non bailable offence to appear before the High Court, there is a process that is followed called “Cause Listing.”’
He said that in cause listing, it is always about first in first out, that in the case of Ms Phiri, there are many other people facing similar offences.
In nutshell, Mr Haimbe is saying that there is nothing wrong with Ms Phiri being locked up since her arrest in February because her case is yet to come up on the cause list.
He said it is a misconception for people to think that Ms Phiri must be given special treatment.
That is far from the truth. We think Mr Haimbe has failed to understand that it is not about the alleged offence that has attracted public indignation about Ms Mumbi’s plight.
It is the long time it takes for police to carry out investigations and ensure that suspects appear in court.
Whether a case is bailable or non-bailable must not dictate the length of one’s stay in incarceration. It is the speedy dispensation of justice that people want.
In Ms Mumbi’s case, it is not farfetched to insinuate the political dynamics at play, that she is being politically persecuted using the justice system.
Ms Phiri is facing a murder charge in connection with the death of a UPND supporter who was shot during the campaign for the by-election for the Kaoma Council Chairperson. That incident is among the many cases of a political nature that have been resurrected under the new dawn administration to ensure “justice.”
In fact, the long delay in taking Ms Phiri to court is helping to highlight the plight that hundreds of citizens – not in public life – are subjected to at the hands of justice to prolonged periods of incarceration.
The public outcry goes across the political divide and we feel this is at it should be. No one should be mistreated on account of political affiliation. Human rights are universal.
As Human Rights Commissioner Laura Miti says, the extended detention of suspects like Ms Phiri without trial is cruel.
Ms. Miti, who is a human rights defender said this situation of suspects spending long periods in Police Cells must end… now that the public knows about this injustice, that those without powerful names and supporters will also be released or tried expeditiously.
What the nation is demanding from the Minister of Justice is to ensure that the wheels of justice are seen to move in tandem with the people’s aspirations having a just and fair justice framework devoid of politicking.