Chief Resident Magistrate (CRM) Joshua Banda has set dates for mention and subsequent trial in a case in which opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema is facing one count of false publication of news with intent to alarm the public.
Chief Resident Magistrate Banda made the ruling Monday afternoon against the backdrop of a pending High Court matter in which lawyers representing the key opposition leader are seeking the higher court’s intervention to ascertain the constitutionality of the charge.
The High Court matter is set for November 18 this year but the Chief Resident Magistrate has gone ahead to set dates for mention which start 10 days later with the final mention on December 28 this year.
Accordingly, the main matter has been set for January 14-18 next year.
In the matter before the High Court, defence counsel will be led by United Liberal Party president Sakwiba Sikota and UPND parliamentarian Jack Mwiimbu and Martha Mushipe.
Others are Keith Mweemba who together with Miss Mushipe and Dindi led the defence on Monday before Banda.
The State prosecution team might be led by Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito whom the defence counsel had unsuccessfully submitted before Banda in an application that he was an active player prior to the arrest and subsequent charge of the opposition leader.
Several Lusaka sympathisers accompanied the opposition leader to Court alongside his Lusaka constituency officials and supporters who took over the Lusaka’s Magistrate’s complex grounds as they outnumbered police officers and members of the public who went to hear the matter.
UPND officials and other opposition sympathisers who include Zambia Direct Democracy leader Edwin Sakala also gave solidarity to Hichilema.