Thursday, January 19, 2012

Court warns those interfering with witnesses in Dora's case

Court warns those interfering with witnesses in Dora's case
By Mwala Kalaluka
Wed 18 Jan. 2012, 13:55 CAT

LUSAKA High Court judge Charles Kajimanga on Monday issued a strong-worded caution after learning that some MMD leaders in Petauke Central are threatening lives of witnesses in the Dora Siliya electoral petition.

And a witness on the same day testified how MMD's Siliya engaged in a ‘sex' campaign in Petauke Central during a rally attended by her mother and younger sister at Mazala village.

Shortly before the matter, in which losing PF parliamentary candidate in Petauke Central Leonard Banda has challenged former education minister Siliya's election as member of parliament in the High Court was adjourned on Monday, the petitioner's lawyer Bokani Soko raised a complaint.

"There is a complaint that we intend to place on record with regard to PW2 Prosecution Witness 2, Peter Banda, our second witness, who advises us that he is being threatened and his life is equally being threatened by MMD officials in his district," Soko said.

"Among them a Mr. Enoch Banda, ward secretary, a councillor Mr. Makala Mupili and district chairman a Mr Watch Banda, who are not happy with Mr. Peter Banda purely on the basis that he testified against one Dora Siliya."

Soko said Banda had since moved his wife from the school where he teaches to Petauke Boma for fear of the threats which were being advanced by the trio.

"That being the case, we pray that all our witnesses from the Eastern Province who have given evidence should be protected by this honourable court," Soko said.

"We further pray that this honourable court should assure our witnesses that they will be protected in this court in case of anyone harassing them."

Soko said should the MMD officials continue threatening the lives of the petitioner's witnesses, the court should cite them for contempt of court, bearing in mind that witnesses had privileges and immunity.

Siliya's lead lawyer, Eric Silwamba said although he could not speak for the MMD officials, he did not know whether Soko's reference to Siliya in his complaint was a veiled implication that she supports of the trio's alleged conduct.

"I can confirm that the respondent has nothing to do with the alleged activities of the trio," Silwamba said.

"And interference with court proceedings should not be taken lightly. These are serious allegations, which include reporting these criminal activities to the Zambia Police and making a correct and formal application so that evidence, if need be, can be led and if the culprits are found culpable, punished."

Silwamba said he could only lament that such a serious allegation touching on the administration of justice could be made from the bar.

"If the perpetrators were not known, it's another issue but here, learned counsel has actually catalogued the names of the so-called perpetrators," said Silwamba.

Ruling on the complaint, judge Kajimanga said the concerns raised by the petitioner's lawyers over the MMD officials' alleged conduct were serious.

"If the allegations of threats on the life of PW2 are true, the witness is at liberty to lodge a complaint," judge Kajimanga said.

"No person can interfere with the course of justice."

Judge Kajimanga urged the petitioner's lawyers to make the necessary applications before him but he assured that witnesses would be protected in his court.

"Anyone found guilty will be dealt with," said judge Kajimanga.

And a 37-year-old peasant farmer, Richard Banda of Mazala village in Petauke, said during a rally Siliya addressed in his village on September 17, 2011, she touched on issues of homosexuality.

"She said if you vote for PF there would be homosexuality," said Banda.

"She was saying men will marry fellow men. She said again that there would be war."

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