Furious judge blasts lawyers

The inertia in the case in which Post Newspaper proprietor Fred M’membe is charged with possession of classified document made Lusaka High Court judge Eddie Sikazwe castigated the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) for failing to honour judicial reforms which they themselves have been advocating.

Mr Justice Sikazwe said the judiciary has been ‘‘called a lot of bad names’’ because of the system failures including LAZ which has failed to implement its own suggestions in order to improve the delivery of services in the justice sector.

He said reforms should be undertaken by every institution that deals with justice in order to come up with a uniform approach to the delivery of services.

“You blame the judiciary that the courts are corrupt, that the courts delay cases. And yet LAZ has been in the forefront in the nation calling for judicial reforms.

“These reforms must be for everybody that deals with justice including the judiciary, the police and the individual lawyers,” he said. Mr Justice Sikazwe said this yesterday in the Lusaka High Court during a botched court hearing for plea in the matter in which M’membe has been dragged to court for unlawfully publishing classified information.

Justice Sikazwe castigated the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) deputy chief State advocate Patrick Mutale for being absent when the matter was called and also reprimanded the Legal Aid Board for not being in possession of the case documents as they appeared before his court.

He wondered why the State Advocates would come before court without proper documentation, as well as the absence of legal personnel that appeared before him on the initial date of commencement of the matter.

The judge was upset at the absence of NPA’s Monica Chipanta-Mwansa who should have been present in court, and the arresting officer who instead sent a representative.

He charged that it was unacceptable that the State could present itself before court without adequate documentation, including evidence to show proof of bail of the defendants granted by the magistrates courts.

This is a matter in which M’ Membe and his reporter Mukosha Funga are accused of publishing classified information, a matter that has been referred to the High Court.

“Where are your sureties? Do you know them? Why are they not here? Were they in court then to hear what the magistrate said about their role as sureties?

“The matter has been adjourned to 9th  December, 2015 for taking plea. I hope you will be ready counsel (State), because I want to go back to the 30th November record to see why those involved did not appear.

“I want to see what happened from the time of cause listing and warrants; what happened?” he said. The matter comes up for plea tomorrow.

M’membe and Funga are charged with unlawful possession of a confidential letter written by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chairperson Rosewin Wandi to the Republican President.

Lusaka Magistrate Humphrey Chitalu committed the matter to the High Court on instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) which amended the indictment to change the dates when the offence was allegedly committed.

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