The judge leant forward towards the prosecutor. ‘What is the charge against this man?’
‘The first charge, M’Lord, is that he was found walking down Addis Ababa Avenue on the right hand side of the road instead of the left.’
The judge now turned to the accused. ‘Mr Wakunguma Munukuyumbwa, how do you answer this charge?’
‘M’Lord, as I understand it, the law on keeping to the left applies only to motorists.’
‘I am much amused,’ sneered the judge, ‘that you should come to my court to advise me on the law. You have apparently overlooked that it is I, the judge, who has been employed to advise you on the law. I therefore have to advise you that it is a constitutional principle that the law applies equally to all, and that no person or category can claim to be above the law, least of all pedestrians.’
‘Huh,’ Sara whispered in my ear, ‘This one may be bought and paid for!’
‘Silence in court!’ shouted the judge. ‘Mr Wakunguma Munukuyumbwa, if that is all you have to say in your defence, I may as well find you guilty on the spot, to save this court wasting its time. Do you have anything else to say?’
‘Yes, M’Lord. There were twenty-five people rounded up for walking on the wrong side of the road. But when we got to Manda Hill Police Post, the inspector pointed at me and said This is the one we want! All the others can go!’
‘Ha ha!’ jeered the audience, ‘He’d been fingered!’
‘Silence!’ shouted the judge, ‘Or I’ll clear the court!’
‘M’Lord,’ said the prosecutor, ‘The accused is not telling the full story. The evidence shows that the accused was in fact the leader of the group, and was the very one who had misled the others to walk on the wrong side of the road without a police permit, thereby defying and challenging the legitimate authority of the state with a view to causing anarchy throughout the nation.’
‘Treason!’ I laughed.’
‘Shush!’ said Sara
‘Silence!’ shouted the judge.
‘M’Lord,’ pleaded Munukuyumbwa, ‘The inspector checked our names against a list in his file. Then he pointed at me and said This is the one we want, the rest can go!’
Now the prosecutor was on his feet. ‘M’Lord, this evidence relates to the further charges against Munukuyumbwa, who we had finally caught after he had been on the run for a long time. We first opened a docket against him in1967 when he went straight through a speed trap without stopping. We also have photographic evidence that in 1975 he changed money on Katondo Street, contrary to the Exchange Control Act of 1954. And last year Speedway Dry Cleaners found a ten pin note in his suit, contrary to the Money Laundering Act of 1993.’
‘The fishermen have been fishing!’ somebody laughed.
‘An Enemy of the People!’ laughed another, ‘Lock him up!’
‘Silence!’ shouted the judge, ‘Or I’ll charge you all with contempt of court!’
‘And there are far more serious charges,’ said the prosecutor solemnly. ‘Munukuyumbwa is also charged with assaulting a policeman, which carries a minimum sentence of five years.’
‘How do you answer this charge?’ asked the judge sternly.
‘I hit him in the face,’ explained Munukuyumbwa, ‘because he was squeezing my essentials.’
‘Do you have any evidence of this?’ asked the judge.
‘They refused to issue a police report,’ answered Munukuyumbwa.
‘He’s lying again,’ cried the prosecutor triumphantly, as he waved a piece of paper in the air. ‘I have the police report right here. It shows that the constable had an unusually flat nose, clear evidence that he was hit in the face.’
‘Any other charges?’ asked the judge.
‘The next charge,’ declared the prosecutor solemnly, ‘is that Munukuyumbwa, while in the cells, did show treasonable disrespect for state property by defecating in a bucket which clearly had Republic of Zambia stamped on it.’
‘A clear case of sedition,’ declared the judge.
‘There is worse, M’Lord,’ intoned the prosecutor solemnly, as he grasped the national flag in one hand and the bible in the other. ‘We have material evidence that Munukuyumbwa did willfully disrespect and maliciously damage state property. Specifically, he took hold of a copy of the Draft Constitution that had been left in the cells, tore it into pieces, and took advantage of it in order to complete his ablutions. He has revealed himself as the Enemy of the People!’
‘Guilty as charged!’ declared the judge.
‘Malicious prosecution!’ shouted another.
‘The judge has torn up the constitution!’ somebody else shouted.
But before the judge could even shout for silence, twenty policemen ran onto the stage. At the same moment the back doors of the auditorium flew open and hundreds of policemen stormed down the theatre aisles in full riot gear, guns at the ready. Then a little fellow, in a police uniform far too big for him, jumped onto the centre of the stage.
‘That’s Sillyman Jelly,’ laughed Sara. ‘The Chief Goon.’
‘This meeting is now cancelled,’ squealed little Sillyman, ‘because a permit was not granted.’
‘Why not?’ we all laughed.
‘Sillyman Jelly pointed at the three hundred police that surrounded the one hundred theatergoers. ‘Because we don’t have enough manpower!’
‘Ha ha!’ everybody laughed as we all stood up clapped. ‘Very good play!’ somebody shouted. ‘Very realistic!’
‘But it wasn’t realistic,’ I said to Sara afterwards. ‘The real thing is more ridiculous.’
‘Yes,’ said Sara. ‘And far more frightening.’
Kalaki’s blog is here