A PATRIOTIC Front cadre has been slapped with a two-year jail term by the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court for slapping Minister of Justice Given Lubinda.
In his judgment, chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale said the assault on Lubinda during the execution of his duty as a member of parliament was barbaric.
This is in a matter where Martin Mambwe, 38, a driver of Kalingalinga Township, assaulted Lubinda on July 12, 2019 and occasioned him actual bodily harm.
Mambwe was also jointly charged with Patrick Mubanga, Major Chansa, Moses Mulenga and Goodson Mwange, who are businessmen, for proposing violence against Lubinda on the same date when they allegedly said “we will beat you next time you step your foot in Kabwata market”.
The five were acquitted of proposing violence but Mambwe was found with a case to answer for allegedly slapping Lubinda.
When the matter came up for judgment, magistrate Mwale convicted Mambwe as the state had proven the case of assault beyond reasonable doubt.
Magistrate Mwale found that it was a fact that Lubinda was at Kabwata market on the material day performing his duties as member of parliament and that it was a fact that he was assaulted at the market as confirmed by the witnesses and the medical report that was issued to him.
He said that he was satisfied that Mambwe was at Kabwata market and assaulted Lubinda contrary to his claim that he was not at the said premises.
Magistrate Mwale said the possibility of mistaken identity had been precluded as the convict was identified by Lubinda and his special assistant during the commotion and the identification parade.
He said the witnesses could not only pick the accused as the assailant when there were many people to point at therefore he could not accept the defense by Mambwe that he was recovering from Tuberculosis on the date of the incident as it was an afterthought.
The court said no medical report was produced before court to prove that Mambwe was sick when Lubinda was slapped and that the defense launched by the convict was a deliberate ploy clearly meant to absorb himself from the offence charged.
“I have no reason to doubt that the accused committed the offense he is charged with. I find that the prosecution has proven the charge beyond reasonable doubt and I find the accused guilty of the offence as charged and convict him accordingly,” magistrate Mwale said.
During mitigation, Mambwe’s layer Agrippa Malando said the former was at the court’s mercy and prayed that it exercises its discretion and have leniency on him as he was a family man with four children who look up to him and sending him to prison would aggravate the situation.
Malando asked the court to impose a non-custodial sentence on Mambwe to avoid congesting prisons and that the latter had learnt his lesson.
In his judgment, magistrate Mwale said he noted with regret the high prevalence of politically motivated violence and intolerance, and that Mambwe’s physical attack on Lubinda was not only retrogressive but barbaric and unAfrican.
“I will be failing in my duties if I allow such kind of violence to go unabated, especially violence on an elected representative of the people occasioned during the performance of his parliamentary functions,” said magistrate Mwale.
“I find this to be aggravating circumstances. In order to deter would be offenders, it is the firm view of this court that the convict deserves a custodial sentence. I therefore sentence the convict to 24 months imprisonment with hard labour effective today.”
During his testimony, Lubinda tearfully told magistrate Mwale that being assaulted for performing functions of which he was elected was extremely painful as he had not managed to recover from the shock of humiliation, because he has served the people of Kabwata with all diligence and honesty.
Lubinda, who broke down, as he gave his testimony wondered who was safe if a minister like him with state security 24/7 could be assaulted.
He said two weeks prior to his beating, he was visited by developers from Time Projects who were constructing a mall outside Kabwata market and they complained to him (Lubinda) that they had paid a cadre K205,000 for him to go and pay traders who operate outside the market as compensation for them to vacate the place so that the developer could put up a car park.
Lubinda said the complaint was made in the presence of town clerk Alex Mwansa and Kabwata ward six councillor Longa Chiboboka.
He said as the area MP, he raised concern saying political parties should not be involved in the running of markets and bus stations.
” It became imperative for me to visit Kabwata market to see for myself and talk to the marketeeers. Initially, I was supposed to go to Libala market but my ADC suggested we go to Kabwata market first because it is bigger than Libala market,” Lubinda said
Lubinda said during his tour of the market, he approached the lady who was selling cosmetics and inquired whether she was happy to be selling in front of the drainage and he engaged her for seven minutes.
He said whilst talking to the lady, he saw a large group of young men approaching from the northern side and he thought they were ordinary youths coming to meet their member of parliament.
“One of them extended his hand and I shook hands with him. Before long someone standing behind me started hurling insults and the fellow who held my hand started pulling my hand. The fellow hurled insults in Bemba saying: ‘Iwe chi Lubinda ulichaoyo, ninshi ulefwaya muno mu market? Niwe uleonaula icipani twaliku votele bakupela bu minister ulelyabwino nefibana fyobe nonba ulefwaya uletucinga ifwe mu market mulefwaya muletukanya ukubombela Kuma bus bushe ifwe tukalya banoko (Lubinda you are useless, what do you want from here? You are the one who’s destroying the party we voted for you and you were appointed as minister, you are feeding well with your children, now you want to overshadow us in the market, you are stopping us from collecting levy from markets and bus stations, are we going to eat your mother?” Lubinda narrated
He said at that moment, there was commotion and his ADC came to his rescue and pulled his arm backwards and pushed him towards the north. Lubinda said when he turned to look behind, he realised they were not ordinary youths as some were wearing masks.
“One youth had a chain and others had sticks. I realised I was in danger. I walked towards the north and walked towards the police direction using the aisle that I used when coming. My ADC was the one pushing me all the way. After we turned from the shop, I heard a voice ba MP and I turned to look and I received a slap and a fist to my face and I felt kicks behind me. When I looked back again I saw my ADC had drawn his pistol and he was pointing at the youth who was down three metres away from me, the youth looked shocked when the gun was pointed at his face and he knelt down and surrendered. I decided to continue walking away as the others were more loud, some were shouting nacikwata imfuti (he has a gun) and they were banging the shops making a lot of commotion and marketeers scampered for fear of being attacked,” narrated Lubinda.
“It was extremely painful to go through such experience. I felt pain on the right side of my face, I felt shoked and very hot in my face.”