LUSAKA magistrate Chrispin Hampungani has recused himself from presiding over the case in which Chawama PF member of parliament Tasila Lungu dragged Chitambala Mwewa of Simon Mwewa Television to court for libel and cyber bullying.
Magistrate Hampungani however, declined to vacate the K50,000 bail in his own recognizance he granted Mwewa on Thursday.
Tasila, through her lawyer Makebi Zulu, applied that magistrate Hampungani recuses himself from presiding over the case because of the questionable manner in which he granted the accused person bail on Thursday late afternoon.
When the case came up, Mwewa, who is represented by lawyer Andy Wright was before court while Tasila, the complainant, was not in court but was represented by her lawyer.
Makebi submitted that he had consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute the matter.
“I had intimated to Mr Wright that we approach the court in chambers but he declined to do so and opted for an open court. It has come to our attention that by warrant of arrest that was granted on October 5, 2021, the accused was arrested on October 7, 2021 and the return date was October 8, 2021 which is today.
In the warrant, the police officer was asked to present the officer before you today, October 8, 2021 but it has been brought to our attention that yesterday on October 7, 2021, the accused was apprehended and arrested by chief inspector George Konde in charge court operations. We have been advised that having apprehended the accused, he received a call from court on phone number 0977777197, Chiti Muuka, who is believed to be a cousin to the accused on which line the court asked the said officer to bring the accused to court,” Zulu said.
He said there was no formal application for bail on the record and the prosecution was not available in chambers when the case came up.
Zulu said his client was concerned because the bench warrant was returnable today and was not aware of yesterday’s proceedings in which bail was granted in chambers.
He said the prosecution would have loved to be heard on the bail application but that was not the case.
“The ways by which the court was moved are unknown and in view of that, it’s our prayer that the said bail be vacated and secondly, that the court recuses itself from this matter and matter be sent back for reallocation arising from the circumstances,” he said.
However, Wright argued that the offence committed by the accused is a misdemeanor and the court had the right to grant bail.
Magistrate Hampungani ruled that indeed the case is a misdemeanor and any court could have granted bail.
“But since the complainant has made allegations against the manner in which the bail was granted. I have decided to recuse myself from this case because I don’t want to be seen to be interfering with justice. I hereby send the case back for reallocation,” said magistrate Hampungani.