Excerpt from Confessions of a Doctor
This incident happened at Ndola Central Hospital, sometime in 1992. I received a summon to attend Court as a witness in a Criminal abortion case. Doctors are often required to give evidence in such cases.
On the day Court was sitting, I could not avail myself, as I ended up doing an emergency Caesarian Section. The next day, I was doing my Gynae Clinic when two Police men were sent to arrest me for what they called “Contempt of Court” . I tried to explain to them why I could not attend Court but they were not having any of that. They told me, they were just following Magistrate’s orders. They wanted to hand cuff me right in the Consulting room with 30 or so of my Patients in the line outside. I begged them that we could just walk to Court without hand cuffs, they reluctantly agreed and off we went.
I must admit, till I entered the Court, I did not think there was anything serious. I was dead wrong. The Magistrate was fuming , calling me pompous for missing his Court session. I tried to explain that I had to choose between Court and saving two lives. He went on shouting at me to respect the Court more. Sentence: “One month imprisonment” , he pronounced. I was shocked, I did not know I had stepped on a live wire! It was the first time , I was hearing of “contempt of court”. They never taught this one in Medical school!
Next, the Police were ordered to take me to Prison and just before they whisked me , the Magistrate turned to me and told me that I could pay a fine if I had a K100 on me. No going home.I was to pay there and then or go to Prison. Now K100 at that time was big money, fortunately I had a K 100 note in my pocket. I promptly paid and was let free.
Karma has his way! Next morning I was reviewing my post-operative patients and who do I see? The Magistrate himself visiting the very woman I had done a Caesarian Section on the previous day. It turned out it was his sister! He called me to the side and started apologizing for his words in Court. I told him, it was fine, I had done my duty and there was no need to apologize. Truth be told though, he appeared like a chicken wet from rain!