Dawood Salim, a freelance Zambian journalist based in Lusaka has appealed to president Lungu to pardon incarcerated veteran journalist and blogger, Derick Sinjela.
The Supreme Court of Zambia jailed Mr Sinjela for contempt by handing over a custodial sentence for 18 months effectively to Derrick Sinjela over his contempt case. The Court sentenced Sinjela for his remarks over the Savenda Vs Stanbic case in which corruption and irregularity were alleged.
In a letter addressed to the President, Mr Salim appealed to the President’s history as a friend of the media and defender of media practitioners, and begged the him to invoke his discretion on the prerogative of mercy and pardon Derrick Sinjela.
Below is the full letter
His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu
President of the Republic of Zambia
RE: Appeal for the pardoning of Comrade Derrick Sinjela
Greetings Your Excellency,
My name is Dawood Salim, a freelance Zambian journalist based in Lusaka.
Your Excellency, I write to you in my personal and individual capacity to echo calls already made by fellow journalists, media bodies and other interested parties that have beseeched you to invoke your discretion on the prerogative of mercy as President of the Republic of Zambia and pardon our jailed colleague Derrick Sinjela, Editor of The Rainbow Newspaper.
As you may be aware, Your Excellency, Comrade Sinjela was on December 20, 2018 sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to contempt of court.
Sir, I have been particularly affected, saddened and depressed about Comrade Sinjela’s jailing because he was instrumental in moulding my journalism career which began some 12 years ago.
Your Excellency, in the years I have known Comrade Sinjela, he has helped mould and mentor scores of young journalists and has always been passionate about providing a platform for ordinary Zambians to speak about the different issues that affect them.
Sir, his jailing has robbed the media industry of an experienced media practitioner, a media freedoms campaigner and mentor to many upcoming scribes of the industry.
Your Excellency, I visited Comrade Sinjela at Lusaka Central Prison last Sunday and I will not belabour to talk about the congestion and difficulties that he and other inmates have to endure in our prisons.
Suffice to say, Your Excellency, I humbly beg you to invoke your discretion on the prerogative of mercy and please pardon Derrick Sinjela.
Sir, I drew the confidence to write you from history that puts you in the position of a friend of the media and defender of media practitioners.
In fact Your Excellency, part of the evidence engraved in Zambian media history to prove your friendship to the media and your involvement in defending journalists has been documented by Comrade Sinjela himself.
Your Excellency, Comrade Sinjela is the journalist who took the now iconic image of you at Kabwata Police Station in 2005 when you were lead counsel in the case where then Post Editor-In-Chief Fred M’membe was charged with defamation of late President Levy Mwanawasa.
Kindly find attached, Sir, the said image which features you, your then client Fred M’membe and other defenders of journalists at the time.
Your Excellency, I thank you in advance and may God Almighty continue to grant you wisdom and strength as you lead this our great nation, Zambia.
God bless you, Sir.