Magistrate Greenwell Malumani has acquitted opposition UPND party president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) of using insulting language, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove its case. HH stood accused of calling police officers “dogs”, “mother fuckers”, “idiots” and “assholes” when he was arrested on 11 April. However, the magistrate pointed out that using insulting language is only an offence if it provokes another person to break the public peace or commit an offence. The state produced four witnesses, who all contradicted themselves, and the magistrate said he was “shocked” by the testimony of the third witness, Mbita Mpazi, who happened to be the arresting officer. Basically, the magistrate accused Mpazi of lying, suggesting that he had arrested HH on the basis of what he had seen on TV, without an official complaint, and without recording any statements from any witnesses: “This paints a very gloomy picture of lack of professionalism on the part of Zambia Police,” Malumani stated, and continued: “The prosecution has failed to convince me that there was no bias and malice. The danger of false implication cannot be ruled out.”

Last week, the state entered a nolle prosequi in another case against HH, in which he was charged with disobeying lawful orders to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade in Mongu.

Following the “battle of the motorcades” at the Kuomboka Ceremony in Mongu, where HH’s convoy failed to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade, HH was charged with a total of 3 offences:

  • Disobeying lawful orders to give way to Lungu’s motorcade (dismissed on nolle prosequi).
  • Use of insulting language against police officers (acquitted).
  • Treason (preparing or endeavouring to overthrow government by unlawful means) by 1) mobilising an advance party to ensure that he was accorded the status of republican president at the Kuomboka Ceremony, and 2) obstructing the presidential motorcade, an act that was likely to cause death or grievous harm to the president, in order to usurp the executive power of the state (pending).

Only the treason charge remains. The hearing in that matter was adjourned to 22 May 2017.