Aug 18, 2015

Barotseland: Zambian Government Restricts Attendance of Afumba Mombotwa’s Trial

The Zambian Government has announced that only 20 officially accredited individuals will be allowed to attend Afumba Mombotwa’s trial on 18 August 2015. The unprecedented decision has caused outrage as a great number of Barotse citizens were hoping to attend the trial in solidarity with their leaders. Mr Mombotwa is the sworn Administrator General for the interim Government of Barotseland. Along with three members of his administration, he was arrested on 5 December 2014 for alleged treason. Since then, the accussed have been held in appalling conditions and exposed to all forms of torture. 

Below an article released by the Barotse Post 

In an unprecedented move, the Zambian government has insisted that the 18th August 2015 treason trial for Afumba Mombotwa and his co-accused will only be attended by 20 people, specially accredited by government to offer support for the accused. For each of the four accused, only five family or friends will be allowed to enter the court room, meaning only about twenty people will occupy the court room which normally could accommodate up to one hundred and fifty people in a setting.

This move, however, has been heavily criticized as a further assault on Barotse people’s human rights as it is neither law nor procedure in Zambian courts.

“This is highly unprecedented, and we are shocked to hear that this decision was arrived at and approved when the Zambian government met in Lusaka last Friday, 14th August 2015, to discuss how to stop the many Barotseland citizens who wish to travel from all the regions of Barotseland to attend the trial in solidarity to their leaders,” lamented Mr. Luseso, a Barotseland independence official.

Rt. Hon. Afumba Mombotwa is the sworn Administrator General for the interim government of Barotseland, now incarcerated and charged together with three members of his interim government; Rt. Hon. Pelekelo Likando, Rt. Hon. Kalima Sylvestor and Rt. Hon. Paul Masiye Masialeti for alleged Treason felony.

“We are also reliably informed that there are further plans to cause confusion at the trial that will be heavily monitored and controlled by state police as a way of intimidating and possibly justifying their action of restricting attendance so that future sessions will be completely deserted.

“Our appeal, therefore, is that court sessions in Zambia are public events that people should freely attend without fear. If many people will not be allowed inside by this sudden extra judicial requirement, we wish to encourage our people to go to the trial fearlessly and in multiplied multitudes, as you are not breaking any law. Let us go and show solidarity to our leaders, dressed in our Barotseland regalia,” appealed Luseso.

Meanwhile, Zambia central province police commissioner has issued a statement through Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation’s 19:00hrs main national evening news that security will be intensified at and around the Kabwe high court trial, scheduled for tomorrow Tuesday, 18th August 2015 at 09:00hrs Zambian time. He has further ordered and confirmed that indeed court trial attendance will be strictly by invitation.

The trial is likely to attract local and international attention as it will be the first ever treason trial involving the now hot issue of the Defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964, with Local and international media expected to cover the trial.

The official charge slapped on the four is that on unknown date but between March 1st, 2012 and August 20th, 2013 while in Sioma district the four, Afumba Kenny Mombotwa, Sylvester Kalima Inambao, Likando Pelekelo and Paul Masiye Masiyaleti, jointly acting together with unknown people, conspired to secede ‘Western Province’ from the rest of Zambia.

Afumba and his co-accused have, however, argued that Barotseland can never be part of Zambia in view of the abrogation and annulment of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, now that the abrogation was fully accepted by the people of Barotseland on March 2012, thereby freeing Barotseland from subsisting within Zambian territory or performing any of the terms of an agreement no longer in force.

The four have since been held in deplorable prison detention since their arrest on 5th December 2014, and now are remanded at Zambia’s most notorious prison facility, Kabwe’s Mukobeko Maximum State Prison for the condemned, where they are open to all forms of unspeakable torture.

Photo courtesy of Zambiareports