THREE singers facing theft of copper cathode charges were yesterday compelled to go ahead with trial because Magistrate Collins Lunda was not satisfied with excuses about the absence of their lawyer.
Clifford Dimba, also known as General Kanene, Mwinde Sikalwe also known as Macky II and Kaira Mulaza appeared in the Ndola magistrates’ court yesterday for continued trial.
Their lawyer failed to turn up for the hearing allegedly because he had to travel to Lusaka for an urgent engagement.
Sikalwe, who spoke on behalf of his co-accused, said the trio was not ready to proceed because their lawyer was not present.
“We are incompetent to represent ourselves,’’ Sikalwe said.
But Magistrate Lunda refused to adjourn the case to a later date, saying the lawyer for the accused knows the court procedure very well and must have communicated about his absence.
“Your lawyer never communicated with the court. There is no excuse, so we are proceeding,’’ Magistrate Lunda said.
And State Prosecutor Eliko Banda told the court that the State was ready to proceed with the matter and that the accused persons have always given the same reason for the adjournment.
Magistrate Lunda finally ruled that the case continues and that the suspects should organise themselves.
“Perhaps you have a problem with your lawyer,’’ Magistrate Lunda said.
During the trial, the trio was shown the pictures in which a witness, Shepherd Masanka, a driver of Zimbabwean origin, identified them during a parade that took place on August 7, 2011 at Ndola district police office grounds.
Another state witness, Edward Mwiche, a detective chief inspector at Masala Police station, testified that he was called on August 7, 2011 to conduct an identification parade for the trio, suspected to have stolen copper cobalt from KCM in Chingola on July 23, 2011.
Detective Mwiche said the Zimbabwean based witness was able to identify the three suspects and that the total number of people paraded was 10, including the three suspects.
Mwiche said he was meeting the three suspects for the first time and that although they are stars in their own right, he did not know them because he does not listen to their kind of music.
Mwiche said Kanene was identified first, followed by Mwinde and Mulaza.
The other state witness, Ikakena Mubanga, a forensic expert at the Ndola district police who also took pictures of the suspects during the identification parade, said the exercise took place during the day around 13:00 hours.
He said all police officers assigned to carry out the exercise did as instructed by their superiors.
Mr Mubanga confirmed that the witness was able to identify the suspects without any difficulties.
The copper cathodes in question are valued at K1.7 billion.