Masebo discharged, rearrested

Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo has been re-arrested and charged with unlawful assembly after she was discharged by the Lusaka Magistrates Court yesterday on two counts of unlawful procession and escaping from lawful custody.

Ms Masebo and five others were re-arrested  and charged at Woodlands Police Station  after they were discharged by Magistrate Lameck Mwale when the matter came up for ruling on the objection raised by Masebo’s lawyer Robert Simeza on the proposed nolle prosequi which the State wanted to enter against her.

In his ruling on the defence’s objection to the nolle, Mr Mwale said the subordinate court had no powers to overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) concerning any instructions and to seek reasons why a nolle was issued.

He said it was only the High Court which had powers to change the DPP’s decisions on such matters.

Mr Mwale said if the defence had asked the court to quash and discharge the charge on the indictment before the State had entered a nolle, the court could have made other decisions.

He added that the charge itself was meaningless as it was quashed in 1996 from the statute book, meaning if this was raised before the nolle was entered it could have been a different case.

Shortly after her discharge, police besieged the parliamentarian outside court as she shouted that she did not want to be touched.

Police guided Ms Masebo to a police Land Cruiser parked outside court and bundled her to Woodlands Police Station together with her co-accused accompanied by other police vehicles.

At the police station, it took more than two hours before Masebo and the others could be warned and cautioned as one of her co-accused disappeared, claiming that he did not understand the court’s ruling when it said they were all discharged.

After her warn and caution, Ms Masebo told journalists that she was charged with unlawful assembly but said the charge did not exist because she did not address a gathering since she was busy with her other court proceedings.

Masebo’s cadres, who marched to the police station while singing songs of solidarity, were warned that they could be charged with unlawful assembly.