The Zambia Correctional Service has moved opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema from Lusaka Central Prison to Mukobeko Maximum Prison in Kabwe, and his lawyers say they can no longer guarantee that he is safe.
And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says “Just like they have been keeping him [in Lusaka] I don’t think there is any problem”.
A horde of police and prison service officers surrounded Lusaka Central Prison this morning during the transportation exercise for the treason accused, causing a public spectacle.
When contacted for a comment, Hichilema’s lawyer Jack Mwiimbu said none of the legal counsels were informed about the decision which was in direct contempt of court.
“When we got wind of it we went to Lusaka Central Prison to verify whether that was true and immediately we got there we found that all the arrangements had already been made. There were a horde of police men and prison authorities and a vehicle to transport them was already at the door. So we were not informed in advance that this is what they were going to do,” said Mwiimbu.
“I cannot guarantee his safety, that I cannot guarantee. What I am aware of is that he has been saying that if they want to take him anywhere, he must be taken by road but the authorities insisted that he must be flown by airplane or helicopter.”
Take a listen:
“As lawyers, what we are aware of is that there is a court order, confining HH and his five co-accused at Lusaka Central Prison and that there has been no contrary order of court pertaining to this matter. When the prison authorities were queried pertaining to the intended movement of the accused this morning , they said yes, they are aware of the court order, but they have just been given instructions from higher authorities; implying that they are ignoring the court orders with impunity,” Mwiimbu said.
“As far as we are concerned as lawyers, we wish to state very categorically that there is a breakdown of law and order in this country. As officers of the court, we are under an obligation to follow what the court says. And the court said they must be confined to Lusaka Central Prison. And further to the issue of mere confinement, there is also an order by the court that they would be allowed to be visited by friends and relative at Lusaka Central Prison, those orders are standing and they have not been invalidated by any authorities.”
He said none of the lawyers knew for a fact where Hichilema had been taken to.
“They have already moved him. They moved them from Lusaka Central Prison to Lusaka City Airport and from there we don’t know where they have been take because we were not preview to the documents pertaining to the movements. So as we speak, we don’t know where they are. We can’t even speculate whether they have been taken to Kawambwa, Mpulungu or any other prison in this country,” said Mwiimbu.
And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says although he has not been officially informed about any decision to move Hichilema to Kabwe, he does not see a problem with it so long the courts have allowed.
Unfortunately, I am in the Constituency and I know that whatever arrangements and whatever is happening there, the prison authorities should be able to deal with. They work with other wings. Just like they have been keeping him I don’t think there is any problem. I don’t know if that decision has been made, but what I am saying to you is that it depends on whatever decision the courts have made now. People have to wait until the prison authorities communicate to them on what the way forward will be,” said Kampyongo.
Take a listen:
Lusaka magistrate David Simusamba yesterday committed Hichilema and his co-accused to the High Court to stand trial in the treason case.
Police arrested the leader of Zambia’s biggest opposition party on April 10, 2017 and charged him with treason, use of insulting language, and obstructing the Presidential motorcade.
The State later entered a nolle prosequi in the Presidential Motorcade case and magistrate Greenwell Malumani acquitted Hichilema on the charge of using insulting language.
“In passing his ruling, Malumani rebuked the arresting officer Mbita Mpazi, saying he did not conduct an investigation in all the matters including in the treason case before making an arrest. He further branded the arresting officer a liar after he confessed to giving misleading statements in court.
Hichilema, narrowly lost the disputed August 2016 general election to incumbent Edgar Lungu, but he refused to recognise Lungu’s presidency on grounds that the Constitutional Court failed to hear his Presidential election petition.