THE Lusaka magistrate’s court has referred the matter in which Chongwe Member of Parliament, Sylvia Masebo is charged with unlawful assembly to the High Court for determination of constitutionality.
Magistrate Prince Mwiinga said yesterday in his ruling that he was referring the case because his court had no jurisdiction to determine whether Article 21 of the Republican Constitution had been violated in this matter.
Article 21 guarantees Zambians the freedom of assembly and association which Masebo and her co-accused claim has been violated by slapping them with the offence of unlawful assembly.
Masebo and four others, through their defence lawyer Robert Simeza, asked Mr Mwiinga to refer the case to the High Court, contending that the charge, framed under section 74 of the Penal Code read with section 75, was invalid because it infringed on his clients’ right to freedom of assembly.
Mr Simeza argued that it was mandatory for Mr Mwiinga to allow for the reference of the case to the High Court for it to test the constitutionality of section 74 of the Penal code.
The prosecution objected to the application, claiming it was meant to delay the case.
However, Mr Mwiinga granted the application, saying it was neither vexatious nor frivolous.
Mr Mwiinga said his court had no jurisdiction to determine constitutional issues as it was a preserve of the High Court.
Masebo and four others were facing one count of unlawful assembly.
It was alleged that the law maker and others in September, 2015, with intent to commit an offence or carry out some common purpose, did unlawfully assemble along the Nationalist and Independence roads, thereby conducting themselves in a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood reasonable fear of the breach of the peace.