Detention of scribe Hamasaka was illegal – State witness

The detention of former Evelyn Hone College lecturer Clayson Hamasaka was illegal because police went ahead to lock him up before a case was established against him.

State witness Inspector Andrew Ngambi admitted before Lusaka Magistrate Obster Musukwa that Hamasaka’s detention was illegal and unconstitutional.

This is in a case in which Hamasaka is charged with being in possession of obscene materials.

During cross examination, Ng’ambi, the last witness, also told the court that Hamasaka’s house was searched using the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) search warrant on suspicion that he could have been dealing in drugs.

Inspector Ngambi told the court that after a thorough search, they found nothing criminal in his house but seized laptops, flash disks and CDs and took Hamasaka to Police Force Headquarters.

“At the police headquarters, some of Hamasaka’s laptops were opened and scrutinized in the presence of his lawyers, family and the combined team of Zambia Police and DEC officers and in his presence but nothing incriminating was found,” Ngambi said.

The court also heard that after going through some of the computers in a transparent manner where everyone was present, it was decided that the search should continue the following day as it was getting dark.

At that time Hamasaka was taken to Woodlands Police Station for detention and consequently arrested for defaming the President with a view to continue scrutinizing computer files the following day

However nothing happened from that day and Hamasaka was released on a warn and caution statement for seditious practices.

Ngambi told the court and the defence lawyers comprising Wilson Mweemba and Keith Mweemba that he instead proceeded to take the computers to Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) for forensic examinations.

During the ZICTA examination Ngambi told the court that there were no representatives from Hamasaka and the search was done by security officials only.

He also confirmed ZICTA expert testimony that at the time the computers were left in police custody and taken to ZICTA, they were not sealed as per the requirement of the law so as to eliminate the danger of tempering with the contents of the evidence.

When reminded by the defence team that evidence before the court from the ZICTA witness indicated that the laptops were tempered with in the accused’s absence, Ngambi said he was not aware but also expressed surprise because he was not the one in the custody of the laptops at the police.

When further asked as to whether the President had complained of being defamed for the police to detain Hamasaka, Ngambi said there was no complaint from the Head of State and that he was not the one who wrote that charge at the police station the day the former journalism lecturer was detained.

Magistrate Musukwa directed the defence to make submissions be done in writing and submitted by March 4, and the State to make its submissions by March 18.

The matter will come up on March 26 for ruling.