In what appears to be a move to impress the embattled acting Chief Justice Lombe Cibesakunda and ultimately please the appointing authority President Michael Sata, Kasama Principal Resident Magistrate Obister Musukwa sitting in Lusaka had one of the cases imposed upon him sit until 19:37 hours on Friday July 19, 2013.
This is the matter in which freelance journalist Chanda Chimba, III is charged with unlawful publishing and printing as well as being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Chimba, III is appearing together with former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Lt. Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha and Dr. Sam Phiri who served as permanent secretary in the same ministry who are separately charge with abuse of office of authority.
The matter which came for continued trial started at exactly 14:30 hours and Magistrate Musukwa hinted that he was prepared to go on even up to 22:00 hours as according to him the matter had dragged on for too long.
For some reason this matter appears to have been put in overdrive to the extent that prosecution witness number two, PW2 Philemon Songolo who had practically been on the stand for a period equivalent to two working days giving testimony in evidence-in-chief being cross examined for only three hours, from 16:03 to 19:03.
This was as a result of the fact that magistrate Musukwa had ordered that the witness be disposed of that day without fail and it is anyone’s guess if the trio are getting a fair hearing going by how quickly he wants to dispose of witnesses.
Worse still Songolo was hardly curtailed by the court for arguing with the defence counsels on several occasions. At some point it appeared as if he was the one cross-examining the defence sending murmurs in the public gallery.
Reactions of some court officials who were made to stay behind and do not know whether they will be paid overtime, point to the fact that they have never gone beyond the stipulated sitting time which according to them is between 8:00 hour and 17:00 hours. Even the policemen charged with guarding the Lusaka Magistrate Court Complex were at a loss to understand what was going on especially that there are not even any lights in the court corridors.
For now Chimba’s case appears to have broken a record as one that has gone this far amongst all the cases of people associated with former President Rupiah Banda. But at the rate things are going one case may just go into the next day and Zambia will surely find itself in the Guinness book of records and so too will the magistrate.
The matter comes up for continued trial at 9:00 hours on August 12, 2013 when the State is expected to call to the stand their third witness.