The treason case involving 54 Barotse nationals came up for mention on 15th November 2013 in the Lusaka Magistrates court before Magistrate Webster Musukwa.
The truck carrying the accused arrived at the court at 09:33 CAT amid heavy presence of Paramilitary police who were positioned at all the entrances to the gates.
The State went straight to apply for adjournment to 29th November 2013, and stated that they had not received instructions from the DPP to proceed to the High Court for trial because he (DPP) had noticed some policy issues which he has referred to the Attorney General.
Upon hearing this Hon. Sinyinda appeared upset and shook his head in disapproval and attempted to speak but he was stopped by Magistrate Musukwa who explained that the counsel should speak on his behalf.
Hon. Sinyinda then issued instructions to defense Counsel Major Lisimba after which an application was made to have a preliminary inquiry ordered.
“We should place it on record and apply to this honourable court for a preliminary inquiry to be ordered. The accused was arrested way back in September and has made four appearances and there has been no positive action from the state in prosecuting the matter. Under the circumstances your Honour I must make a humble yet firm appeal to this Honourable court to order a preliminary inquiry,” Counsel Lisimba submitted.
He further argued that when the State arrested the accused it simply meant they were ready to proceed with the trial and wondered what was holding the state back from proceeding and charged that it appeared the state was only interested in punishing the accused without trial.
He pointed out that if the State was not ready with the case they shouldn’t have arrested the accused in the first place and demanded for a preliminary inquiry in the interest of justice.
The State on its part submitted that the DPP could not go ahead to issue instructions to proceed to the High Court because there were some policy issues that he has observed and has since referred the matter to the Attorney General and in that view were unable to proceed.
The Defense however argued that the state should have handled those policy issues before making any arrests and stressed that people should not be incarcerated for months because of the States’ administrative failures.
Magistrate Musukwa in passing his ruling said he had noted that the accused was arrested in September 2013 but explained that the application by the defense for a preliminary inquiry could not be heard before his court but should instead be heard before the trial court.
AND Masiye Masialeti, one of the accused who was representing himself, told the court that his stance that he was before a wrong court remains the same. He maintained that he was not a Zambian but a citizen of Barotseland and stressed that whatever was happening to him was illegal.
He said Barotseland was an independent state with a head of state and a constitution endorsed by over 20,000 people and demanded for immediate release.
The state responded that the application should be presented before the trial court and Magistrate Musukwa made the same ruling.
Another accused Muleta Kalaluka also argued that as far as he was concerned he was not a Zambian and demanded for immediate release.
He demanded that President Sata should be brought before the court as a member of Linyungandambo because there was no resignation received from him.
He further demanded that the Roger Chongwe Commission of inquiry report be released for people to read what the people of Barotseland submitted.
He told the court that he was ready to be taken to Mukobeko prison for hanging since the charge carried a death sentence.
Kalaluka proceeded to ‘lecture’ the fully parked court on how two different countries namely Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland formed the state of Zambia through the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, and charged that even Magistrate Musukwa was aware of that fact, but the Magistrate quickly warned Kalaluka not to put words in his mouth.
Kalaluka wondered why the state was handling them like ordinary criminals yet the issue was clearly political. He said the state should offer them the status of political detainees, and charged that the continued occupation of Barotseland by Zambia was illegal, as there was no single chapter in the Zambian constitution that legalizes Barotseland to be a part of Zambia.
Kalaluka said that the policy issues that the state was now referring to is the same Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
And there were emotional reactions outside the court as one of the accused who is physically challenged, Mukumbuta Akakandelwa broke down and wept as he was walking to the holding cell. After walking a distance he told the Police Officer escorting him that he was unable to carry on walking. At this point this reporter asked some sympathetic Lozis nearby to lift him to the holding cell.
The case is coming up for yet another mention and possible committal to the high court on 29th November 2013.
The ruling on the application for a preliminary inquiry will, however, come up on Monday 18th November 2013 at 08: 30 hours.