Barotseland: Imprisoned Activists Trial Adjourned
Mr Afumba Mombotwa, Mr Sylvester Kalima Inambao, Mr Likando Pelekelo and Mr Masiye Masiyalet, charged with treason for alleged advocacy of the Barotseland Agreement, must now wait until Thursday [22 October 2015] for their trail to resume. The four men’s trial is being repeatedly postponed forcing them to endure the dire conditions of Mukobeko maximum security prison were they are held whilst they await the hearing.
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Below is an article posted by Barotseland Post:
Trial for the four Barotse treason accused failed to take off in the Kabwe High Court today as the defense lawyer Humphrey Mweemba from Legal aid board was not in court while the new lawyer requested for time to study the matter properly. The matter will now come up on Thursday.
Afumba Mombotwa, Sylvester Kalima Inambao, Likando Pelekelo and Paul Masiye Masiyaleti who are being held in a filthy jail cell at the notorious Mukobeko maximum security prison are charged with treason and by Zambian law, if found guilty they will be hanged to death.
When the matter was called before Judge in charge Dominic Sichinga, the lawyer notified the court that the lead defense lawyer was not before court and applied for an adjournment to enable her study the case properly.
The state had no objection and the court made the adjournment, the accused were later taken to a holding cell before being driven out to Mukobeko amid tight security.
Meanwhile several relatives and well-wishers who travelled from far places to come and hear the case have vowed to camp in Kabwe until the matter is concluded.
“There seems to be a ploy to frustrate and break our resolve but we are determined to camp here until these gallant soldiers of Barotseland are set free unconditionally, as the world may wish to know that Hon. Afumba and his colleagues are not criminals, they are at the most just prisoners of conscience,” Mwendabai, a loyalist confidently stated.
And Zambia has continued to keep this trial as low profile as possible. Besides restricting public court attendance, the Zambian state media has not covered court proceedings, and yet it is customary for the main news segments to cover news content from the courts, even for less crime such as threatening violence of one individual by another as was the case not long ago.
However, the online publication Zambian Watchdog which is critical of the government has rightly observed that Zambia has not had any treason trial since 1998 after an army officer Stephen Lungu, alias captain Solo, and other senior officers overthrew then president Fredrick Chiluba citing bad leadership and corruption as reasons for the military takeover. The coup which lasted close to eight hours was, however, later crashed as some soldiers drew cold feet, leaving the main architects arrested and detained at the same Mukobeko maximum security prison.
photo courtesy of Helle Lauridsen@flickr