THE Lusaka High Court has re-inforced the possibility of Kawambwa Central PF member of parliament Nickson Chilangwa’s possible stay in jail for absenting from court after ruling that ruling that his warrant of arrest should be effected.
Chilangwa has been in hiding since the Kawambwa Magistrates’ Court issued a bench warrant against for shunning court hearings in a matter he is charged with arson, threatening violence, malicious damage to property, and four counts of assault.
He was jointly charged with his Pambashe Constituency PF counterpart Ronald Chitotela, Chabu Chitotela, Kalumba Chifumbe, Davy Kaniki and Chibwe Musantu.
After being found with a case to answer in the matter, Chilangwa absconded hearings and his absentism did not auger well with Magistrate Martin Namus, who directed that he be put behind bars and appear in court on May 26, 2023 to show cause why he should not be remanded in custody until the case was disposed of.
But instead of showing remorse and justifying his absence on the date which was scheduled for defence, Chilangwa questioned the legality of arrest in the Lusaka High Court.
Chilangwa went into hiding, whilst awaiting his fate to be determined.
In his petition, Chilangwa asked the High Court to stay the warrant of arrest and suspend proceedings pending determination of the complaint which he lodged before the Judicial Complaints Commission against magistrate Namushi for alleged bias.
Chilangwa claimed that he could not appear before court on May 24, 2023 on reasons that he was answering to contempt charges before the Lusaka High Court for masquerading as PF secretary general in a matter where Matero member of parliament Miles Sampa has sued the PF for hounding him out of the party.
He said despite notifying the court that he would not be available on the date of defence, it went ahead and issued a warrant of arrest against him.
Chilangwa sought a declaration that Magistrate Namushi’s directive to the police for his pursuit violates the right to a fair trial and goes against the rules of justice.
Ruling on the matter yesterday, Judge Zulu said although she has powers to make any interlocutory order, it does not extend to an application to stay an interlocutory decision in criminal proceedings before a surbodinate court.
“I find that, as was observed and stated by the Constitutional court in the Bowman Lusambo versus the Attorney General case, Chilangwa’s application before me is a disguised appeal against the issuance of the warrant of arrest, a thing that borders on abuse of court process and must be condemned and discouraged at all costs,” she said.
“Having so found, all the other arguments raised by the petitioner pertaining to the legality of the warrant of arrest and justification for staying the criminal proceedings are rendered otiose.”
Judge Zulu said Chilangwa’s application for an order to stay the warrant of arrest issued by the Kawambwa Magistrates’ Court on May 24, 2023 has failed and dismissed it with costs.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the net effect of this ruling is that the criminal proceedings against the petitioner in the case of the People versus Ronald Chitotela and others must proceed in the Kawambwa surbodinate court as they cannot be stayed by this court pending the determination of the petition before this court,” said judge Zulu.
“Similarly, the warrant of arrest issued by the surbodinate court remains in force and shall so remain until executed or cancelled by the court that issued it as per the provisions of Section 102(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).”
In relation to the matter before the Kawambwa Magistrates’ Court, Chilangwa and his accomplices during the August 12, 2021 general elections, while acting together assaulted four UPND members, damaged the windscreen of their vehicle, a Mahindra, before setting it ablaze and threatened violence against them.
By Mwaka Ndawa
Kalemba June 20, 2023.