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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Why l think Hon. Chitotela Acquittal exposes the Rottenness of the Judicial System

Columns Why l think Hon. Chitotela Acquittal exposes the Rottenness of the Judicial...

Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela
Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela

The acquittal of Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. Ronald Chitotela by Magistrate David Simusamba, and the sentencing of Mwenya Kankunkutula to 4 years in prison for stealing soap worth K18 (about $1.20) illustrates the rottenness of Zambia’s judicial system.

Mr. Chitotela was celebrating his “vindication”, while Mr. Kankunkutula was pleading for mercy; telling the Magistrate that the soap was for washing his children’s school uniforms. Unlike in Chitotela’s case, the court sentenced the poor man to 4 years in prison as his wife “wept uncontrollably.” Imagine the effect this ruling will have on his family. Well it matters not in the Christian nation.

Mr. Kankunkutula is not the only poor person rotting in jail for this petty crime. He joined countless other–a teenage boy sentenced to 3 years in prison for stealing a pant worth K20, and Spencer Mwambula sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for stealing one tablet of Lifebouy. And the list is endless. Yet to claim that the government did not find any evidence that Chitotela stole even a dollar is pure madness! It is for this reason that such unjust court actions must receive wider condemnation–unfortunately not!

I am not condoning shoplifting, but social circumstances matter as well. What kind of poverty can lead a person to steal a tablet of soap? As long as both unemployment rates and the gap between the rich and the poor continue to explode, and political corruption undermines national development, we should expect masses going to jail because of petty crimes like shoplifting.

It is an established custom that the ruling party’s corrupt politicians are innocent until they are out of favor with his Excellency, the Supreme Leader and newly minted President, Dr. Edgar C. Lungu. It was moreover shameful for Mr. Chitotela to celebrate the expected; he simply joined countless corrupt politicians acquited by the same courts. Unless we are blind or suffer from PFamnesia, we know how many millions are uncounted for; we know many cases in which the politicized Anti-Corruption Commission has brought charges against politicians, but such cases always enter the blackhole of justice!

Clearly, Mr. Chitotela cannot be investigated when Dr. Lungu is the law, the judge and the prosecutor–it is like asking the thief to investigate and convict himself. From the onset, President Lungu sided and defended Chitotela. If Chitotela insults the Supreme Leader today, I can assure you that the same ACC will rearrest him and find evidence to convict him. And if by divine intervention PF loses power in 2021, Chitotela will surely be rearrested by the new administration. But like Dora Siliya, his charges will be dropped if he shamelessly kisses the boots of the next president–it is called justice in the Christian nation.

We know the movie–Silvia Masebo, President Chiluba, Sata, Kambwili, GBM, Musenge–you can add to this endless list. It is not long ago when GBM and HH were accused of various crimes–but wait. The moment GBM put his lips on Lungu’s boots–the charges were dropped. As for Kambwili, he abused his power at will. When he lost support from the Supreme Leader, however, he became a criminal. Should he, however, loudly shout Lungu, and pabwato, all his charges will be dropped.

Am l the only person to question the moral basis of such unjust rulings? The poor generally steal out of necessity, but politicians do so out of grand selfishness. Yet it seems courts ignore the ethical relationship between breaking the law and justice; punishment must be proportional to the crime. Is it just for a person to spend 4 years in prison for a $1 crime? Unless it is a diamond dollar coin, such a sentence is unjust. Is a fine or community service not enough? Or is imprisonment the only justifiable sentence for shoplifting? And why are Churches silent amidst such unjust sentences?

We need no reminding that such injustices led to the rise of minor and major prophets in ancient Israel. Courts existed to render justice, but like in Zambia, they punished the poor and rewarded corrupt individuals (Amos 2:6-8).

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

I support the yellow campaign instituted against the changing of the Constitution, but we must not end with presidential powers, the independence of the judiciary, the ACC, the police, and civil society organizations. Amendments are needed on petty crimes like shoplifting too. As it stands, the judicial system only exists to punish the poor while rewarding those connected to the Supreme Leader! We must change!

By Rev. Kapya Kaoma

[Read 6,425 times, 1 reads today]


    • Please folks not for one second blame anyone else but Chakolwa Lungu for Chitotela’s acquittal. Chagwa is the one who directed lawyers and Judges to acquit Chitotela after Chitotela agreed to pay all the Millions of Dollars he was asked to pay as protection fee. Those who remember my comment not long ago I stated clearly that Chitotela was going to be acquitted once he pays Lungu millions he demanded and renounces his presidential ambitions. Chitotela did just that and now he is a free man.

      Not to worry about this now. But the truth will be known very soon as the PF continues to crumble.

      President Chakolwa Lungu is a big thief mafia.

    • So hard and sad to read.
      Chitotela and David should do society a favor by hanging themselves.
      4 years in jail for a bar of soap?

    • By the way Reverend going by the title of your write up, you should have provided the basis on which the so called ‘rotten judicial system’ erred in acquitting Chitotela. In claiming that its rotten, you should provide the evidence it overlooked so that the world and natural justice can probably agree with you.
      Without this, you seem to be no different to your other Bishop colleague who failed to exculpate himself in front of the Supreme court bench. He never took time to read the judgement but went ahead to call the judicially names. So Rev, did you follow proceeding from the start? Be kind enough to highlight the evidence which the magistrate overlooked and confirms to you its rottenness?

    • Truly so. What a disgrace and misappropriation of justice. Shocking to say the least, and then you have ignorant cadres condemning the Reverend for speaking the truth. Obviously benefiting from crime!!!

    • When majority of people don’t love their country this is the kind of rotten leadership you get. And guess what? They still vote for these sub human mongrels as leaders.

    • You are mistaken thinking this is a Lungu problem. This is a problem of our society, our culture, our values that demean human life. Whatever village in Z let alone Africa you come from, it US who are the problem by forgeting how to help our neighbors. This goes to all the corruption, the rotten politics, CADRE system…. The child that sleeps in every Zambian house is cultured in our rubbish values. Until we start changing our values, we will continue producing heartless judges, beggarly officials, self entitled university students, lying “prophets” and on and on

  1. The problem is the police investigation wing is poor in Zambia.

    The court deals with the facts. The government prosecutor is also to blame.

    Lawyers are becoming more clever than our prosecutors. Sad

  2. Of lungu sided with chitotela,he would no been arrested,just to arrest a sitting minister is more painful than being acquited.so just shut your stinking mauth.

  3. Meanwhile the streets and govt offices are surrounded with litter all these crimes like shoplifting soap should be subjected to hours of community service…I was at the Ministry of Lands one time and was shocked to find litter being burned in the carpark. Why should you sentence someone for stealing soap when its going to cost taxpayers more just to keep him in prison?

    • Meanwhile his proxy companies were winning infrastructure and road million dollar govt tenders and not delivering yet someone has the cheek to defend him!!

  4. Chitotela knows what he has done, trust me, if he’s stolen anything, he will never be at peace. You can believe it, there is a God in heaven and he is just. The Bible says that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. So you can be assured that one day God will hear the prayers of those crying against injustice in Zambia

    • Superstition is useful in the sense that it pacifies some people. I have no problem with this aspect of it.

    • Yes you find out about heaven and hell when you die….what nonsense your slave masters put in your dumb heads after they [email protected] your wives, daughters and sons in front of you just like that reconciliation commission they encouraged silly Mandela to sign.
      Wake up from your folly!!

    • Israeli Mosad has a division specially to hunt down Nazis and stolen Jews possessions like Paintings even today they are active all over the globe …you go and preach to them about reconciliation see how far you will survive!!

  5. What do you expect from the Zambian judiciary when a judge can be woken up at 2am in the morning,on a Saturday to accept an injunction.
    The entire judiciary needs an overhaul after the PF is kicked out in 2021.

  6. I totally totally agree with you Reverend Kaoma.There’s so much INJUSTICE under the sun. Going in for 4 years surely only for a tablet of soap!! God come and heal our land! There’s really urgent need to amend the law

  7. You are slandering the Judicial system in a very wrong way. In as much as the judicial system needs urgent overhaul and clean up its totally unfair to say its rotten based on your comparison of matters. A soap thief was arrested and evidence was there and probably he admitted to stealing and accordingly he was sentenced. Very different to Chitotela’s case where the evidence which was presented was not enough even for him to be on defence. Did you want the magistrate to convict or rule outside what was put before him? Law is not rocket science, its about proof not opinions. The judicially yes needs review,do you know how long civil/labour matters take to be disposed off? incorporating community service for those petty crimes as suggested etc…

    • This is a simplistic view of justice. The fact that the President intervened by refusing to suspend Chitotela to “pave way for inveatigations” means that there is no way evidence that would have been collected from his office for presentation in court could have been accessed. So, the Chitotela case was rigged from the start by the President no less. How can you call that justice?

  8. Good observation Rev Kaoma, please kindly get in touch with me. As the Church we need to speak on behalf these injustices…of course speaking collective. I want to join forces with you. From Rev Siwale

  9. Well, Rev. Kaoma you have said it loud and clear. The man for whom LaGuardia Airport servicing the New York City area was named, passed a sentence in a court fining all those who were present in his court during one of his court session. The reason was for countenancing a system that could convict a petty thief (who stole the equivalent of US $10) to buy bread in the land of the free.
    Zambia after Levy Mwanawasa has never been the same and is VERY UNLIKELY to see those days when confidence in the legal system was being built. We are in for some long dark period and we better brace ourselves for a crash!

    • @13 warlord,DON’T FORGET HOW MWANAWASA INTIMIDATED JUDGES.One time a Judge had to apologize and find an excuse that he had malaria thus was not reasoning well when he issued an injuction.I believe the Judiciary and Civil Service were the most independent under KK after that institutions of governance have been being eroded!!They are even function a bit bcoz Mwanawasa despite his armtwisting at times,was NOT expressly destructive!

  10. By the way Reverend going by the title of your write up, you should have provided the basis on which the so called ‘rotten judicial system’ erred in acquitting Chitotela. In claiming that its rotten, you should provide the evidence it overlooked so that the world and natural justice can probably agree with you.
    Without this, you seem to be no different to your other Bishop colleague who failed to exculpate himself in front of the Supreme court bench. He never took time to read the judgement but went ahead to call the judicially names. So Rev, did you follow proceeding from the start? Be kind enough to highlight the evidence which the magistrate overlooked and confirms to you its rottenness?

  11. Well stated Rev. The judicialy is indeed rotten to the core. Punishment should proportional to the crime committed.Judicially was exellent when they used to be trained by NIPA. Even countries where there is an advanced leagal system e.g Norway, they dont have harsh sentences as in zambia and yet their prisons are as good as many zambian homes.In zambia prison is hell.Magistrates are criminals

  12. I concur with the writer, God is listening and seeing everything! . Where are the churches , where is Pastor Sumaili?, Where is the Bishop Friends to His Excellency, the Great Leader of Zambia and commander-in-chief? . On 18th October , the Secretary to the Cabinet will send us text messages , inviting us for the National Day of prayer , is the day worthy in such circumstances?.
    God who is the Almighty surely will hear the cry of that woman whose Husband has been jailed 4 years , and all the people who presided over the case will be answerable before the end of the next full moon!.

  13. Well done Rev!How can a rich man who walks with 4×4 legs worth more than a life pension of teacher be a judge?Go behind the High and Supreme Courts and see what I am talking about.Can ashop lifters makes it.

  14. Even after lungu leaves office, it will take atleast 20 years for Zambians to recover their stolen wealth from lungu and his gang…….

    Lungus defence against the corruption epidemic sweeping zambia is…..state house does not procure any services or goods for the country…..but we know lungu has the last say if any major purchase is agreed…..and he has agreed to many that are clearly corruption.

  15. Bakambwanga rejoice when the judgement is on their side and condemn the entire Judiciary whit is against them. Akainde and his brainwashed cadres and cursed.

  16. The only avenue left for law abiding people is to appeal against any judgment that does not meet expectations. The act of appeal is a right to be enjoyed by the same people paying tax for the country to perform its duties for countrymen and countrywomen. The first appeal is to rescue the poor parent for being subjected to inhuman treatment through extreme sentence. Some form of lenient can help within the context of the judicature. The second appeal is to appeal against wrong application of the existing laws in the case of a Honorable Minister accused of the crime of corruption and abused of office through self-aggrandizement.

  17. Chitotela could afford his lawyers. The Zambian investigative wings bumbled that investigation. Don’t just insult the courts when they just presided. Prosecutors had no hard evidence. I am upset, but it is all our fault for hiring weak investigators.

  18. As a reverend specialised in a particular field so is a judge sitting in court. A judge knows his field of work and if nothing has been presented before him to warrant a case what else can he do. The judge bases his judgement on what is tendered before court from the prosecution as well as the defence team. Am not saying chitotela is clean sooner or later he will be answerable too. There is a lot that must be done for out justice system to improve in zambia and it will take the collective effort of every peace loving zambian to rise above the elected few in order to make zambia prosper in every aspect.

  19. Excellent reflections and I 100% agree with Rev. Kaoma. That’s what you get when the country is being run by jokers and plunderers!!!!!

  20. Stealing is stealing. Now if someone has admitted that he stole and the looking at the thing that was stolen I can forgive the person. If you really know that you stole and you are asked then you refuse God sees you.

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