NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili and his lawyers Cheelo Mwiinga and Christopher Mundia have sued Lusaka principal resident magistrate David Simusamba for defamation.
And Kambwili has reported magistrate Simusamba to the Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly attempting to extort K360,000 from him so that the magistrate could deliver judgement in his favour.
Simusamba is alleged to have accused the trio of attempting to bribe him in order to deliver judgement in favour of Kambwili in a matter where he is facing charges of forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to a public officer.
According to his statement of claim, Kambwili stated that magistrate Simusamaba had on different occasions solicited money from him so that he could get a favourable judgment in a criminal matter he is facing before him.
Kambwili disclosed that magistrate Simusamaba was on a deliberate path to personally destroy him, especially that he had completely refused to pay K360,000 which the latter demanded.
“The first Plaintiff will also aver at trial and call evidence that he has complained about the conduct of the Defendant [magistrate Simusamba] before to the Judicial Service Commission and the office of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice complaining about the extortionate conduct of the Defendant with no action being taken by the said institution and officers of the Judiciary but was instead advised to continue appearing before the said Defendant despite raising very serious allegations of actual biasness, malice and extortion as against the Defendant.” Kambwili stated.
He contended that he wrote a letter to the office of the Chief Justice on December 17, 2019, complaining about the conduct of magistrate Simusamba but he instead received a letter of response from the Chief Justice quoting verbatim Masgistrate Simusamba’s response to the allegations.
Kambwili and his lawyers said they would provide evidence and prove that magistrate Simusamba authored a letter to the Chief Justice between December 18, 2019 and January 22, 2020 in which he maliciously made false allegations against them in order to escape sanctions from that office, by falsely in turn accusing the complainants of corruption.
Kambwili stated he would provide irrefutable evidence and would call witnesses to prove that he was not the first prominent politician in Zambia that magistrate Simusamaba had attempted to extort huge sums of money from under the threat of a malicious conviction.
“The Plaintiffs will aver at trial and call evidence that the publication by the Defendant to the Honourable Chief justice has caused them embarrassment and has brought their reputations into ridicule and odium as a result of the false and malicious claims by the Defendant,” they stated.
Mwiinga and Mundia stated that they would equally aver at trial and provide evidence that magistrate Simusamaba’s publication to the Chief Justice had labelled them as unprofessional and unworthy legal practitioners to her whom they repeatedly appeared before as senior members of the legal profession in Zambia with audience before the Supreme Court of Zambia and in her capacity as the fountain of justice in Zambia.
They stated that in his exculpatory letter to the Chief Justice, magistrate Simusamba falsely and maliciously said: “My Lady, on the issue of soliciting for money from him in order to deliver judgment in his favour comes to me with a great sense of shock. In fact, the contrary is true since the inception of the case in January 2018 Mr Kambwili has relentlessly attempted to bribe me with sums of money including offers to buy me a car at the time I had no car sometime in the first quarter of 2018 when his case had just began. He has on several occasions sent people most of whom who are close friends including one of his lawyers Mr Mundia to bribe me. At no time have I accepted any bribe from him or solicit for one and my message to all his envoys has been very diplomatic in order to avoid trouble for his envoys. In fact, my Lady, you will wish to know that the complaint before you has been triggered by my latest refusal to accept a bribe from him. In the days leading up to the 12th of December 2019, his new lawyer Mr Cheelo, who is a former classmate and friend, approached me and told me that Mr Kambwili wanted help with his case and was willing to offer any sums of money and remove Mr Mweemba from his Defence team as he noticed that he, Mr. Mweemba, was being acrimonious towards me.”
The complainants argued that the said words were false, malicious and defamatory and they had been severely injured and their credit and reputation had been brought into scandal, odium and contempt in the eyes of right thinking members of society and that they came to them with a sense of extreme shock and anguish.
Mwiinga and Mundia lamented that the said words uttered by the defendant against them in their natural and ordinary meaning meant and were understood to mean that they were unprofessional lawyers engaged in corrupt practices to advance their practice as legal practitioners and to win cases using illegal means.
The complainants denied the said words in their entirety, stating that magistrate Simusamba had no proof of the same and simply concocted malicious falsehoods in an attempt to escape censure after having been reported for corrupt practices to relevant authorities.
The trio is seeking exemplary and or punitive damages for defamation of character, compensatory damages, damages for mental anguish and strain arising from the false, malicious and defamatory statements.
They also want a public retraction of the false and malicious allegations contained in a letter to the Chief Justice and an apology to them to their satisfaction in respect of all the defamatory utterances attributed to magistrate Simusamba.
Kambwili, Mwiinga and Mundia also want interest on all sums awarded, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.
And in his complaint to ACC, Kambwili stated that his appearance before magistrate Simusamba was a nightmare as the latter had been attempting to extort money from him.
“I am currently appearing before the Lusaka Subordinate Court charged with the offences of forgery, uttering a false document and giving false information to a public officer before Hon David Simusamba for the last three years with trial not completed,” he stated.
“However, my appearance there has been a nightmare due to the conduct of Hon Simusamba who has been harassing me and attempting to extort money from me.”
Kambwili claimed that he complained about this conduct to Chief Justice Irene Mambilima and her deputy Michael Musonda and he was informed by the latter in the presence of witnesses that they were aware of magistrate Simusamba’s extortion schemes but that they had found it very difficult to discard him from the judiciary due to lack of tangible evidence.
“You may wish to know that I am not the only prominent person who has suffered at his hands and I have had the pleasure of interacting with other prominent individuals who have resisted his extortionate demands and have instead suffered malicious and unfounded convictions at his hands and who are more than wiling to come forth as witnesses to attest to the same,” said Kambwili.
On March 4 this year, chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale refused to admit a complaint by Kambwili against Simusamba for libel and attempts at extortion.
Magistrate Mwale indicated that he was aware that justice Mambilima wrote to Simusamba asking him to respond to the complaint and the latter’s “confidential” response was what had resulted into Kambwili’s charge in the first count.
He said the Chief Justice was the head of the judiciary under whose administration and supervision his office fell, and it would be imprudent for him to feign ignorance of the fact that the Chief Justice had reported the matter involving Kambwili’s complaint to the Anti corruption Commission for further action.
He added that the complaint or formal charge lodged against his colleague did not disclose an offense in line with section 99(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code.