One out of the 11 gold scam suspects, Shadreck Kasanda yesterday vanished from the Lusaka Magistrates Court in unclear circumstances moments before the group was due to appear in court.
As lawyers, worried relatives and curious members of the public filled up every inch of space in the court room ahead of a hearing of a case that has sparked speculation for the last two weeks, it was discovered that Kasanda was missing from the group of suspects.
State advocate Gracilia Mulenga announced to the court presided over by Lusaka chief resident magistrate Davies Chibwili that Kasanda had been picked by authorities for fresh interrogations.
“Kasanda is not before this Court. Before the court walked in I received a call I was informed that he has been picked up by law enforcement agencies on some other charges for further investigations,” Mwanza said.
Kasanda’s lawyer Makebi Zulu wondered how his client was taken away without being informed.
He said the Law enforcement officers ought to have waited for the proceedings to take off and there after pick up Kasanda if they so wished.“
It has just come to our attention, the accused was supposed to appear before Court.
The prudent to thing do by the law enforcement officers was to wait for these proceedings to take off and thereafter carry on with their work if they have to,” Zulu said.
He said the law enforcement officers had committed contempt of court by defying the court order and in the absence of Kasanda proceedings could not go ahead.“
We pray that contempt proceedings be instituted against whoever from the State has defied the order of this Court to appear and show cause why they should not be cited for contempt of Court,” Zulu said.
He requested that the matter be stood down so that he could establish which investigative agency had picked up his client from the Court premises.“
“It will be incomplete if identities are not attached to it. Contempt cannot be done in the vacuum,” Zulu said.
After recess Zulu called the officer in-charge at the magistrate Court inspector Kelvin Kapaso who disclosed that Kasanda was picked from the holding cells by one of the DEC officers.Zulu said contempt had happened in the court precincts of the court and asked Kapaso to explain if Kasanda left under warrant.
Kapaso explained that; “the accused were brought at the holding cells whilst there, some lawyers came to have documents signed by their clients and a few minutes later one of the DEC officers came and took Kasanda am not too sure who took him.”
Zulu pressed the officer to disclose the name of the law enforcement officer that took Kasanda.
However Mulenga objected saying the officer had indicated that he was not sure about who took the accused and mentioning names would be prejudicial.
Zulu accused the State of covering up for the DECs conduct.
“The state seems to be hiding something they are refreshing his memory by telling him his not sure,” Zulu claimed.
“Kapaso explained that the DEC have an office within the holding cells and the police does not interfere in their operations.”
“Kasanda was in DECs custody they have their own key and own cell at the holding cells. I am able to identify him if I see him, he wore a DEC coat and when he picked the accused I followed him and asked him why he picked him without informing the officers,” he said.
“The same officer referred me to his in-charge but I asked him why he was referring me to the in-charge and it was at that point that counsel (Zulu) came to find out.
I don’t know the in-charge all I know is that she’s a woman but I don’t know her name.”Zulu asked the court to cite the in-charge a Mrs Chisenga for contempt.
He said when he went to inquire about Kasanda’s whereabouts at the holding cells the said officer eluded him by pretending to be on phone and disappeared.
Mulenga said it would be inappropriate to issue subpoenas against the officer based on assumptions.
Magistrate Chibwili guided that ; “these are contempt of court proceedings which are not formal. counsel is examining witnesses to try and establish who took the accused person. The accused was picked up when he was coming to court for me this is a clear contempt.”
He granted the application to subpoena to the officer in-charge to be returned on August 31 at 14:00 hours.
According to sources Kasanda was taken to the National command center were he was made to sit in an office close to an hour without any officer showing up to quiz him.
He was later taken back into custody at Lusaka central correctional facility ‘Chimbokaila’ immediately after the court session.
By Mwaka Ndawa
Kalemba August 31, 2023.