The Magistrate’s court has acquitted Freelance journalist Wilson Pondamali of possession of military pamphlets, much to the disappointment of the state. This is the fourth tramped up charge the journalist has been acquitted of within a year.
Pondamali is one of the journalists facing criminal charges by the PF regime for their alleged link to Zambian Watchdog – this publication. Two other journalists are still facing and suffering trials and tribulations in Lusaka at the hands of the PF regime which is intolerant of divergent news.
Delivering judgment in a packed courtroom in Kabwe today, Magistrate Maxwel Shiwanga said the state had failed to prove that Pondamali was in unlawful possession of the military stores. He upheld the evidence given by defence witnesses that the pamphlets where brought for photocopying at his (Pondamali’s) telecentre by soldiers.
State agents abducted Pondamali last year and locked him up in a filthy police cell for a night before staging an early morning raid at his residence searching
for seditious materials. They confiscated computers and an assortment of documents and books from the house. The materials confiscated included children’s school books and comedy videos.
After an unfruitful search, police framed him with four charges of possession of military pamphlets, theft of a library book, attempted escape from lawful custody and malicious damage to police vehicle.
Pondamali was later granted bail by the court but police officers under instructions from PF leaders instead whisked him to a remand prison and after falling ill he was chained to a government hospital bed while being guarded by armed policemen.
Meanwhile Kabwe based prominent lawyer Mulilo Kabesha of Kabesha and company has warned law enforcement officers not to be used by people in leadership to persecute perceived enemies. Kabesha who represented Pondamali in all the four charges said that the continued statement by junior officers that they were working under instructions was unacceptable.
He described the judgment as ‘landmark’ and hoped that lessons have been learnt from his client’s persecution. He also said that he was to meet with his client to plan the next step, the state has been granted 14 days in which to appeal the judgment.