The Lusaka Magistrate Court has cleared the President of the Cleaning Association of Zambia, Lawrence Makumbi, of charges of libel brought against him by NemChem Managing Director Toni Burato. The dismissal came after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) denied Mr. Burato’s application to prosecute Makumbi for libel, citing a lack of merit.
The decision was delivered on Tuesday, January 9th, 2023, when the defence team, led by Makumbi’s lawyer, submitted before Lusaka Magistrate Ann Holland that the case was illegally before the court as the DPP, Gilbert Phiri, had not granted consent to prosecute the matter.
The defence argued that the case should be quashed as Makumbi had not been served with the summons, and lawyers for the complainant were absent during two court proceedings.
In the six libel charges, Mr. Burato accused Mr. Makumbi of defaming him in a letter dated April 13, 2023, alleging that the complainant formed a personal union, deducting K157,000 from over 7,000 NemChem workers.
After being cleared, Lawrence Makumbi expressed gratitude to the Judiciary for fairly administering justice. Addressing the media, he said, “I am so happy today because the Judiciary has demonstrated fairness. These foreigners wanted to have me locked up for a long time because I always speak up against injustices, especially on our cleaners.”
Now freed from legal concerns, Makumbi pledged to focus on advocating for the protection of the rights of cleaners. He stated, “Now that I have been set free, I will go all out and speak for the cleaners. The time of exploitation at the hands of these foreigners has come to an end,” emphasizing his commitment to fighting against injustices faced by the cleaning community.