THE Ndola Magistrates Court has sentenced a 35-year-old driver of Ndola’s Chifubu township to 18 months in prison with hard labour for insulting and defaming President Banda.
Chief resident magistrate Kelvin Limbani yesterday sentenced Darius Mukuka to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour.
This is in a case in which Mukuka was charged with defaming the President, contrary to section 69 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
Mukuka insulted President Banda on March 22, 2009, at the Chifubu recreation club when the head of state appeared on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) television news while receiving some visitors from Australia
Passing sentence, Mr Limbani said Mukuka’s action deserves punishment so that he can reform and be deterred from committing a similar offence.
“I should state that the Office of the President is the highest office in the land and deserves respect from each and every citizen. One cannot take pride by defaming the head of state of this country despite the differences that he may have,” Mr Limbani said.
He warned that doing so may lead to anarchy as evidenced from the quarrels that arose at the Chifubu recreation club when Mukuka uttered the defamatory words.
Particulars of the offence are that Mukuka on March 22, 2009, in Ndola, with intent to bring the name of the President into ridicule by word of mouth, did defame the President.
Magistrate Limbani said Mukuka deserves to be punished so that others can learn from him and be deterred from defaming the President.
He, however, said he had taken into account that Mukuka is a first offender who deserves leniency.
“The accused deserved to be punished so that he can reform so that others can learn that insulting the President is an offence. I sentence you to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour. If you are not happy with my decision, you can appeal to the High Court within 14 days,” Mr Limbani said.
And passing judgement, Mr Limbani said it should be stated that Mukuka’s action amounts to defamation of the President according to section 69 of the Penal Code.
He said citizens have a duty to respect and uphold the office of the President instead of insulting and defaming it.
“I have no doubt that the accused committed the offence of defamation of the President contrary to section 69 of the Penal Code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia,” Mr Limbani said.
In mitigation, Mukuka said he is a father of four school going children and that he also looks after his parents, including the entire family.
And lawyer Bonaventure Mutale said Mukuka is sorry about what he said at the club and that the court should take into account the circumstances in which he uttered the defamatory words.