Vet dirty judges, lawyers-Mulongoti

There must be efforts to frame out punitive sanctions against judicial staff and lawyers engaged in criminal activities, People’s Party (PP) Mike Mulongoti has said.

“It is heartening that the leadership in the judiciary is no longer in denial that there is corruption in the system and that some lawyers were nothing but criminal in robes, robbing not only their clients but the government as well through evading tax and non-remittance of Value Added Tax (VAT),” he said.  Mr Mulongoti said it was good that both Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and Acting Attorney General Musa Mwenye had acknowledged that the judiciary and some legal practitioners were denting the image of the legal fraternity because of their criminality.

He however said the leadership in the Judiciary should not only lament about corruption and criminality destroying the moral fabric of the legal fraternity. Mr Mulongoti said time had come for the judiciary to be cleansed because the general perception was that members of the legal fraternity had become compromised and corrupt.

He said the corruption and criminality being associated with the legal fraternity had seriously eroded the confidence the general public had in the men and women in the robes.

“What we expect now is what the leadership intends to do about this problem. They cannot continue pretending now. It is time to take serious introspection. It will be a disaster if they just talk about corruption and criminality without embarking on the cleansing of the Judiciary,” Mr Mulongoti said. He said Zambians were looking for a corrupt free legal fraternity that was respected, honest, dignified and with integrity.

Mr Mulongoti said there was a general perception that lawyers were using underhand, criminal and dishonest means of collecting legal fees from their clients and that unless the judiciary was cleansed, the legal fraternity would remain a discredited profession. He said it was no longer a secret that the legal fees being demanded by some lawyers were not only astronomical but were discouraging to many Zambians seeking justice from the courts of law. Last week, Justice Chibesakunda revealed that there was rampant corruption in the judiciary and her statement was supported by the Acting Attorney General Musa Mwenye who has branded lawyers abusing the bank accounts of their clients as criminals in legal robes.