The Kabwe Magistrates court on Tuesday threatened to issue a bench warrant against a policeman who wanted to delay the case in which freelance journalist Wilson Pondamali is being harassed by the state. The state framed the journalist with four charges but was acquitted for two and is on trial for two others of unlawful possession of military stores and theft of a library book.
Earlier an army officer testified in the matter but when detective Boston Nzhibwe was called to testify, the prosecution told the court that he had gone out. This annoyed the magistrate who adjourned the matter for one hour and ordered that Nzhibwe be brought before court failure to which he would lock him up for contempt.
Fearing detention, Nzhibwe returned to court sweating and ended up blundering in his testimony as he fumbled with words. He was heavily censured by the court but later gave his evidence. Police under instructions from PF politicians have been delaying the case as they have been ‘fishing’ for crimes to incriminate Pondamali.
During cross examination by defence lawyer Mulilo Kabesha, Nzhibwe disclosed that police did not follow procedure in charging Pondamali because they were getting instructions from senior politicians that he wanted to flee the country.
He told the court that the police did not find any seditious material after the search and that it was wrong for them to have detained Pondamali on 16th July before conducting the search the following day.
Ruling in the matter has been set for 31st July and the defence will file written submissions on the 18th July 2014.
Last year in July, Pondamali’s residence in Kabwe’s Highridge area was raided by heavily armed policemen in search for seditious materials but later framed him up with silly charges of possession of military pamphlets and theft of a library book. He is one of the three journalists being persecuted because government suspected them of running the Zambian Watchdog.