Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Prolonged Detention Without Trial: A case of Mumbi Phiri and Many Others

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By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. It has been more than 5 months since Mumbi Phiri was detained on 18th February 2022 and subsequently charged with an alleged offense of murder on 24th February 2022. The alleged murder in question is that of a United Party for National Development (UPND) cadre; Lawrence Banda who was allegedly shot dead on Sunday, 6th October 2019 during the Kaoma Council Chairman by-election. This was when the Patriotic Front administration was still in office and Mumbi Phiri was the then Deputy Secretary General of the Patriotic Front. The shooting of Lawrence Banda happened when a PF campaign convoy crashed with a UPND campaign convoy and violence erupted thereafter. Suffice to mention that such scenes of extreme violence were very common at that time and were instigated by both PF and UPND almost in equal measure. As to who, between the PF and UPND instigated the violent crash that resulted in Lawrence Banda’s death, it is for the police to investigate and tell us during trial. Apart from Mumbi Phiri, Shelby Chilekwa has also been charged with murder in this same case.

2. There are three key issues that arise with regard to Mumbi Phiri’s arrest and subsequent prolonged incarceration without trial. The first issue is that this is evidently a politically motivated case, given the fact that Mumbi Phiri as Deputy SG of the PF, was a major critic of the current President Hakainde Hichilema, during his time in opposition. The second key issue is that the publicly known circumstances of the murder in question make it difficult for one to comprehend how two people; Shelby Chilekwa and Mumbi Phiri could both be involved in shooting a person who is reported to have only been shot once. The third key issue is the heavy-handed manner that the State has dealt with this case starting from the initial arrest of Shelby Chilekwa who is said to have been taken to an unknown location for more than a week and had no access to his lawyers and when he subsequently appeared, had visible marks of torture and he also testified to his lawyers that he had been brutally tortured by the police.

3. It is also common cause that the lawyers for Mumbi Phiri had applied for a preliminary inquiry at the Magistrates Court, which we understand was granted by the Court but was never undertaken. The state has since kept Mumbi Phiri and Shelby Chilekwa away from court ever since. Such a preliminary inquiry compels the State to present the evidence that they have against the accused persons, and the Court would make a ruling on whether the evidence presented is sufficient to warrant going to trial. Given the reluctance of the State for 5 months now, to take Mumbi Phiri and her co-accused to Court so that the Court can undertake the said preliminary inquiry, it is quite apparent that the State may not have sufficient evidence to sustain a murder charge against the duo. But they want to punish Mumbi Phiri and her co-accused as much as possible before they can be released. In other words, they want to exact extrajudicial punishment.

4. This has been the basis of our advocacy for Mumbi Phiri and her co-accused to either be taken to court or released immediately. Our advocacy has been directed to President Hakainde Hichilema for two particular reasons. Firstly, he is the Head of State and therefore the buck stops with him. He is the one who appointed Mumba Malila as Chief Justice, whose subjects prepare the cause list for court appearance, he is also the one who appointed Lemmy Kajoba whose police officers are responsible for transporting Mumbi Phiri and her co-accused to Court, as well as appointing Frederick Chilukutu, the Zambia Correctional Services Director General whose charges are keeping Mumbi Phiri in Mongu Central Prison.

5. Secondly, Hakainde Hichilema made a very unfortunate statement during his last press conference at State House in which he said if it was up to him, he would change the law so that those accused of corruption can be detained for up to 90 days before being taken to court. Clearly the President appears to have very little understanding on how the rule of law should work. To him, a person is guilty simply because they have been accused of committing an offense, even if they have not been subjected to any trial. He sees a trial as an unnecessary inconvenience. For a person who wields so much power as Republican President, that is a very dangerous mindset to have. Indeed, in Hakainde Hichilema we have a President who is either extremely naive or who has an extreme appetite for dictatorship or both. Either way, if we relent in holding him accountable, this country will take so many backward strides as far as the rule of law is concerned.

6. Our advice to Hakainde Hichilema is that he should use the power which the Zambian people bestowed on him on 12th August 2021, to do good for the people. Let him use his Presidential power to lift people out of poverty, reduce the cost of living, grow the economy, create jobs, enhance the rule of law and constitutionalism and just make Zambia a better place than he found it when he ascended to office. It is common cause that Hakainde Hichilema was mistreated and persecuted by the previous regime during his time in opposition, but he must aspire to be a better person than those who persecuted him. He must set better standards, for it is on the basis of the standards that he sets today, that he will be treated when he leaves office. He must be continuously conscious of the bed that he makes today, for he shall one day be required to lie in it. Take Mumbi Phiri to court or release her from prison.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t worry we will do the same to chi hh in 2026 when we win. Out error was in releasing him during his treason case

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    • She’s lucky it’s just a detention; her victim is dead. She will get her day in court, maybe in 5 years.

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  2. “………murder in question make it difficult for one to comprehend how two people; Shelby Chilekwa and Mumbi Phiri could both be involved in shooting a person who is reported to have only been shot once…..”

    ST you are just an empty tin wanting to sound relevant………..

    Don’t you know the one who pulls the trigger is ad equally guilty as the one who commands the shooter to shoot ???

    In this case , M Phiri instructed that barber to shoot Laurence banda and protected him ………

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  3. Look at this boy Sean Tembo when you were battered by Paul Moonga and his thugs in City centre …where was Mumbi Phiri you are crying for? She was probably wondering why they didnt finish you off competely.

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  4. The president seems to have a shallow understanding of human rights despite having gone through similar abuse by PF. He may be trying to revenge and as such is bound to fail in his broader duties as obligated by the electorate.
    Mumbi Phiri was not an angel but that doesn’t mean she must be mistreated. This case should be taken to international courts because it is violating plenty of Zambia’s treaties

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  5. People voted expecting decency and proper justice not jungle law. Even those so-called Christians who look holy on Sundays are rejoicing at fate of this woman. It doesn’t matter which party you support an offender has got the same rights as anyone else until the courts convict him or her. It’s not about revenge, it’s about bringing sanity to our rule of law.

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  6. Yakaba ba PF you guys enjoyed this during your time as a criminal organization masquerading as a political party. Enjoy the drama. Sean Tembo you are just a mediocre opposition who should have been finished when the PF left you for dead. You are just useless. Leave politics to real men you are not one of them

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  7. Mumbi phiri volunteered information about the shooting. She even described the type of gun used in the shooting. She is not a minor, but an adult who knew what she was talking about.

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    • She may have confessed, she may be an adult…
      That is not the issue here… it’s what the law says about detention and court procedures. Upnd is expected to ” clean” the system not to contaminate further. In case you didn’t know murder carries death or life sentence not two years …. that’s what a Upnd in Solwezi got for murdering a PF official. We need to go back to what we were before. We’re only getting worse.

  8. People have been in detention without trial for years and you are only picking one person you know, be proactive, go TO these prisons, get stats and put up a solid case with botH the Chief Justice and the judicial service commission, you are talking of somebody who was detained 5 months ago, how about those in the correctional services for 5 years without trial. Leaders fight for the greater good of all, and not one person because of the personal relationship

  9. It’s the price we have to pay for having a bitter person as President. He wants the Law to interpreted and enforced according the degree of his bitterness. If he’s bitter with you then you’re not safe

    • That’s why we should scrap the nonsense called CHRISTIAN NATION from our constitution. All that’s happening is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. So let’s excuse ourselves from the Bible by deleting the preamble and only then shall we freely exact vengeance against those who offended us in the past.

  10. Where were you when mwaliteta was behind bars for almost 1 year because her.where were you when mutambo was behind bars for months.Karma.

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