Police are said to be planning to arrest Post editor-in-chief Fred M’membe, his deputy Sam Mujuda and US-based Zambian Professor of law Muna Ndulo for comtempt of court saying this time they will follow procedure.
But Post Newspaper managing Editor Amos Malupenga says they are ready for the police and that they will meet them in court.
The Watchdog has also been informed that Post Deputy Editor Sam Mujuda has since left the country for further studies in Europe.
Last week on Friday, High Court judge Albert Wood quashed the contempt proceedings against the three by magistrate Charles Kafunda saying the correct procedure was not adhered to.
The three had applied for judicial review on the contempt proceedings brought against them in the case where Post news editor Chansa Kabwela is charged with one count of circulating obscene matters contrary to the laws of Zambia.
The contempt proceedings arose out of a 4th September, 2009 article in the the Post entitled “The Chansa Kabwela case – a Comedy of Errors”.
In quashing the proceedings, Judge Wood said the procedure relating to contempt proceedings must be followed with scrupulous care.
“The authorities cited do not encourage a formal charge, they make it mandatory. Further, the alleged contempt should have been tried by another court as the record shows that it was not committed in facie curiae. Contempt of court can either be in the face of the court or not in the face of the court,” judge Wood said. “If it is in the face of the court a summary procedure is adopted. If not, the State should formally institute proceedings and the court should proceed as provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code. There is no provision for proceeding in the manner stated by the subordinate court.”
“The record also shows that section 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code was not complied with regard to the second applicant”, said Judge Wood.
Sources, very senior police officers, have told the Watchdog that the police will now formally institute the proceedings.
Sources said that the judge did not say there was no contempt but that the procedure to determine the contempt was not followed thereby leaving room for the State to start again.
Sources did not give a time frame for their intended action but said anytime soon.
Police spokesperson Bonnie Ksapeso said he does not have the details on this case.
But Post Manging editor Amos Malupenga said the police are free to go and pick up any one they want. He said the Post is ready as this would not be the first time they have been arrested.
Asked how the Post views this case in relation to press freedom, Malupenga said his organisation knows the real motive of the police.
He said the police were so blinded by trying to pin down the Post that they forgot to follow the right procedure and have to be reminded by the High Court.
He said it’s not that the police do not know the procedure to follow but are blinded by other motivations.
Malupenga maintained that the Post is ready and will meet the police in court as usual.