Sangwa’ complaint letter against Chief Justice in full

Sakala (in red gowns) swearing in president Banda

Sakala (in red gowns) swearing in president Banda

On 24th June 2009, Lusaka Lawyer John Sangwa complained to the Judicial Complaints against Chief Justice Ernest Sakala and Judge Chulu the judge in charge of the Lusaka High Court. He accused the two of violating the judicial code of conduct. Below is the letter lawyer Sangwa submitted to the Judicial Complaints Authority. It’s typed verbatim.


24th June 2009

The Secretary
Judicial Complaints Authority
Plot No. 39
Los Angeles Boulevard

Dear Sir,

Complaints against His Lordship Mr. Justice Ernest Sakala, Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia and His Lordship Mr. Justice Chulu, Judge-in-Charge Lusaka High Court.

[1] On my own behalf and on behalf of my clients Messrs Faustin Mwenya Kabwe and Aaron Chungu, I hereby, in line with the provisions of Section 25 of the Judicial (Code of Conduct) Act No. 13 of 1999, as amended by Act No. 13 of 2006, submit complaints against His Lordship Mr. Justice Ernest Sakala, Chief Justice of The Republic of Zambia and His Lordship Mr. Justice Chulu, Judge-in-Charge, Lusaka High Court for misconduct in that they have in their conduct violated the provisions of the said Act namely, Sections 3, 4, 24(2) and 25(2) of the Act.
[2] Details of the circumstances leading to these complaints are contained in my letter of 5th June 2009, which was sent to Madam Justice C. B Phiri and copied to their Lordships. Copy of the said letter is attached to this letter in support of the Complaint. In support of the complaint against His Lordship Mr. Justice Chulu, I attach copy of the letter by my clients dated 7th May 2009, which was sent to His Lordship under cover of my letter of 8th May 2009, copy of which I also attach.
[3] In addition to what is contained in the letters stated above on Monday 15th June 2009, I received a call from the Marshall to Judge C. B Phiri, using a telephone, which I suspect to be the Judge’s direct line. She informed me that the Judge wanted to see me the following day Tuesday, 16th June 2009 at 09:30 hours. I indicated that I would attend to the Judge as requested. I, however, failed to do so as I was indisposed, but I managed to instruct one of my associates by the name of Ms. Nsamba Kantumoya to attend the Judge on my behalf. I am informed by my associate that the Judge was informed of my incapacity to attend. In response, my associate informed me, the Judge said I should attend Her Lordship as soon as I was back on my feet and that she was under Pressure to conclude the matter as soon as possible hence the need to bring forward the case.
[4] The following day 16th June 2009, I was at the High Court and met Her Ladyship Madam Justice C.B Phiri as Her Ladyship was on her way to the Chambers. I asked if I could see her to which Her Ladyship responded in affirmative. Whilst in Chambers, her ladyship told me that she was under pressure from His Lordship the Chief Justice and the Judge-in-Charge to conclude the case. Her Ladyship mentioned to me that the Judge-in-Charge had said that since she granted the order of leave to apply for judicial review, which also stayed the decision of the Task Force on Corruption to arrest and prosecute Messrs Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu, there has been no movement in the case and that there was need to conclude the case as soon as possible.
[5] Her Ladyship further mentioned to me that the Judge-in-Charge reported their exchange to the Chief Justice who also called Her Ladyship and emphasized that the case be promptly heard and concluded. I expressed my dissatisfaction with the interest that their Lordships have shown in this matter, especially in the light of the fact that:
(a) there are several cases of people who are in prison who have not appeared in court for years when criminal cases are supposed to be given a priority;
(b) there are Judges who have not heard cases for years since they were allocated and even those that have been heard, in some cases, judgments have been pending for years;
(c) there are cases before the Supreme Court , which have not been given dates of hearing and others that have been heard judgments have been pending for years;
(d) my clients had a number of cases before some of the judges of the High Court, which they had to abandon because by the time they were given dates to hearing by the judge responsible the issue in contention had become moot;
(e) as far as I was aware no representative had been made by the Attorney General’s Chambers to the Judge-in-Charge or his Lordship the Chief Justice over the pace at which the case before Her Ladyship was progressing hence wondered why their Lordships should take a keen interest in this matter out of all the cases pending before the High Court in Lusaka; and
(f) there is no provision in the Constitution or any statute that would justify the intervention of their Lordship in this matter.

[6] After this exchange Her Ladyship still expressed desire to comply with the demands of their Lordships and asked me to find a date earlier than 21st July 2009, on which the case can be heard. I left after undertaking to contact the Solicitor General and agree on the dates.
[7] The conduct of Their Lordships is in violation of Section 3 of the Judicial (Code of Conduct) Act as they have undermined the independence, integrity and impartiality of Madam Justice C.B Phiri.
[9] His Lordship Mr. Justice Chulu and the Chief Justice have violated Section 25 (2) of the Act. The said Section requires judicial officers to be concerned only with the conduct of other judicial officers, which contravenes the Act. In such a situation it is the duty of the concerned judicial officer to report the erring judicial officer to the Judicial Complaints Authority. By making the representations directly to Madam Justice Phiri their Lordships violated Section 25(2) of the Act.
[10] His Lordship the Chief Justice has violated the provisions of Section 24(2) (b) of the Act in that His Lordship can interfere in the work of a judge only upon receiving representations for the Judicial Complaints Authority.
[11] Additional information in support of this complaint may be made available in due course. My clients and I are available to attend on you or the Authority at any time to clarify any aspect of the complaints and provide such additional information as may be necessary.
Yours faithfully
John Sangwa
Cc His Lordship the Chief Justice
His Lordship Mr. Justice Chulu
Mr. Faustine Kabwe
Mr. Aaron Chungu

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