Ndulo, Mmembe cited for contempt

Professor of Law,  Muna Ndulo and Post newspaper editor Fred Mmembe have been cited for contempt of court by Lusaka magistrate Charles Kafunda.

The two have been ordered to appear before the magistrate on September 2, 2009 to answer charges.

Professor Ndulo

Professor Ndulo

Professor Ndulo is teaching at the University of Cornell in the United States of America.

This is in a matter where Kabwela has been charged with one count of circulating obscene matters or things tending to corrupt public morals, contrary to section 177 1(b) of the Penal Code.

The summon follows an application last Friday by Lusaka Division prosecution officer, Frank Mumbuna, who told the court that the Post had continued violating the law of the land and ignoring the warning given by the court.

Mr. Mumbuna was complaining over an article written by Professor Ndulo entitled ‘The Chansa Kabwela case; Comedy of Errors’ in the ongoing case of Chansa Kabwela, the news editor of the Post.

In the article, profesor Nduno said the Kabwela case is currently before the court as a result of errors of judgment on the part of the President and the police. The situation is exacerbated by the failure to stop the prosecution on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions and that ‘no other case has damaged Zambia’s image and standing as a tolerant and democratic country.

Prosecutor Mumbuna said the state felt that The Post’s action undermined the integrity of the court.

“We also feel, your honour, that in any journalism field or profession the observance of the law comes within such training and for the editor of The Post newspaper to have closed his eyes to such realities would be an act of stubbornness for which the court must provide protection.

“The comment by The Post newspaper, which goes on to say ‘as Zambians endure this unnecessary court process’ is an act of indiscipline, which might jeopardise the proceedings of this trial, to which the court must protect the state.”

Mumbuna said it would also be prudent for the court to protect its own integrity adding that the application was meant to protect both the state and the accused person.

“The comments and the cases put forward before this article goes to show assumption of authority by an unauthorised person or persons,” he said.

Mumbuna argued that the title of the article belittled the court and those that were involved in the trial.

“Because the state has not been given adequate time to justify on the comments that have been written by The Post, we will prove to the world that in a case of obscene, intention is not necessary,” Mumbuna said before magistrate Kafunda advised him to stick to the issue. “Judgment has been provided for the court and this article is capable of influencing the outcome of this case. We will be quick to say that the editor of the newspaper, The Post itself, must be cited for contempt under section 116, as provided by the law.”

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