Economic and Equity Party Leader Chilufya Tayali was this afternoon beaten at the Lusaka Magistrate Court by youths alleged to be from the United Party for National Development.
As the people were waiting for Mr. Hichilema to arrive at the court, the irate youths pounced on Mr. Tayali who was only rescued from further beating by Police Officer who took him to the holding Cells at the Courts.
Mr. Tayali was appearing in the Lusaka magistrates court to answer to a complaint of defamation against UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Despite being under the protection of the police as he was being ushered to the Court room, cadres outnumbered the police and pounced on him in full view of Mr Hichilema, the party Vice president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, UPND Members of Parliament, Senior party members among others causing unnecessary tension at the courts.
This behavior by the cadres left the police with no option but to take Tayali to another court for protection and was only ushered to the court were he was appearing through the tunnels.
When the matter was called for plea, Tayali’s lawyer Jonas Zimba placed it on record that before his client takes plea he wanted to inform the court that his client was attacked by unknown UPND cadres and that as a result of the attack he is not in his right state to take plea as he was stressed and suffered body pains.
But before he could conclude his preliminary issues, one of the complaint’s lawyer Zevyanji Sinkala objected to Mr Zimba’s submissions saying the there were no such procedure were a preliminary issue is raised before plea is taken.
“The accused is before court to take plea and it is only after plea that our colleague can raise such unless they do not have any issues pertaining to the charge “, he has said.
Another Complainant’s lawyer Laston Mwanabo argued that the court should not entertain the defense’s application because the issue which is being raised so far has nothing to do with the charge before this court therefore it cannot be a preliminary matter before plea is taken, adding that the court can only entertain preliminary issues that are to do with the indictment.
In response Mr Zimba has indicated that the state of mind and the being of any person as an accused or a witness is important in the displacement of justice and this is what he intended to raise.
He argued that the issue before the court is preliminary as it got matters that have to do with proper administration of justice whether the accused is known or not.
Mr Zimba added that the court can take judicial notice of facts that are known and take judicial notice that the person in the dock is an accused and that he was hoping that his colleagues will state the law upon which they are making the objection on.
And Osborne Ngoma who is also representing Tayali has submitted that his client was not ready to take the plea on grounds that the accused, who is supposed to take plea, is unwell and he needs medical attention.
Mr Ngoma cited section 17 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Procedural code that orders the court to issue an order that the accused should undergo a medical examination and determine as to whether he is fit to stand trial and take plea.
But Mr Mwanabo argued that his understanding of section 17 appears not to support the application being raised.
Mr Mwanabo said that instead the section reads that a court may at any stage within trial or enquiry order an accused to undergo medical examination and a matter should relate to proceedings before court.
Mr Mwanabo added that there was nothing raised by the defense to support that the accused is not in a state of mind that he cannot understand the charge for him to properly plea whether guilty or not.
Mulambo Haimbe also invited the court to ascertain whether or not the accused is in such a state of mind as to accept the proceedings.
In its ruling, the court allowed Tayali to take plea in the best interest of justice and indicated that normal procedures ought to be taken in the issues raised against the attack of the accused by the cadres.
The court has also advised Tayali’s lawyers to advise their client to desist from making running commentaries in relation to the matter while the matter is pending trial.
This was after the Complaints lawyer Nelly Mutti informed the court that she had received information that the accused had continued running commentaries in relation to the matter.
In this case Tayali is alleged to have accused Mr Hichilema of being the main sponsor of the University of Zambia riot which resulted in the death of a 4th year student who died out of suffocation.
Magistrate Felix Kaoma has since adjourned the matter to November 30th at 09:00 hours for trial and advised the defence to advise their client not to make running commentaries on the matter.
Mr Hichilema on October 9th reported Mr. Tayali to Woodlands Police Station for criminal libel, an offence he said he considered serious.
He said that this was in view of Mr. Tayali’s continued libelous statements in total defamation of his standing reputation both as an individual and President of the biggest political opposition party in Zambia, the UPND.
The UPND Leader charged that Mr. Tayali made unwarranted and unsubstantiated claims against him for a long time now
The matter continues on November 30 for commencement of trial.