Web Page HTML/CSS Template
Webstyle produced NavBar
Twitter & Facebook
   Arts & Culture
   Business & Internet
   Education & Training
   Government & Politics
   Online Resources
   People & Society
  View NEWS
 2010-04-02 02:48 pm Back to NEWS
Supreme Court Jails Litigant, His Lawyer
Rescue Shoulders Estate Agency Limited executive director Victor Chilekwa (c) with his wife and brother Emmanuel when he and his lawyer Nsuka Sambo were sent to prison for contempt of Court at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court yesterday jailed a human rights activist Victor Chilekwa and his lawyer Nsuka Sambo for three years after finding them guilty of grave contempt of court.

Chilekwa, who is executive director of Rescue Shoulders Estate Agency Limited, was jailed three years suspended for one year on all counts of contempt of court while his lawyer was jailed on one count of contempt, with a year also suspended.

This means Chilekwa and his lawyer will only serve two years in prison.

This is in a matter where Chilekwa and Sambo faced charges of contempt of court after they insulted the court following the loss of an appeal between Masiye Motel's Ltd and Rescue Shoulders and Estate Agency Ltd.

In the High Court, Rescue Shoulders Estate Agency Limited sued Masiye Motels Ltd claiming K 200 million as commission under a contract entered into by the two companies for the sale of Masiye Lodge Motel.

The High Court ruled in favour of Rescue Shoulders Estate Agency awarding them a sum of K100 million but Masiye Motel Ltd being dissatisfied with the judgment appealed to the Supreme Court and succeeded.

It is the loss of this appeal that enraged Chilekwa and his lawyer, prompting Chilekwa to write insulting letters to Chief Justice Ernest Sakala.

Chilekwa's contemptuous letters that got worse in succession were dated January 9, 2010, February 11, 2010 and February 12, 2010.

In one of his letters addressed to justice Sakala dubbed: '
Pay us our money, maintain integrity and root out nepotism from the Supreme Court' signed by Chilekwa and Moses Zulu who is an operations and administrative officer from the same organisation, read in part: "In fact, when handing us the judgment, your own officer of the court, respondent counsel with more than 15 years of legal practice who you interviewed for a High Court judge position said, 'It is a stupid judgment by stupid judges'." Chilekwa continued: "Surely do blame yourselves for attracting these words from among your own amicus curia (friend of the court). What more will the outsiders say? Running the Supreme Court of Zambia on the lines of nepotism will not help this country, as it may only turn Zambia into another Rwanda of 1994 by forcing people to start taking the law into their hands due to the courts' unreasonable irresponsibility in adjudicating cases. From your conduct, it appears it's wrong to successfully perform one's contractual obligations and the party that does not perform its part of the contract must win the case because they are related to you. Why have you allowed your relatives to benefit from their wrong of unilaterally varying the contract and refusing to pay the hard working agents?"

Chilekwa demanded that his case be reviewed.

The second letter he wrote addressed to justice Sakala and the Deputy Chief Justice titled: '
Request for an appointment within seven days with you' (Appeal number 187 A of 2007), Chilekwa asked the court why they had quashed the High Court decision, accusing the lawyer for Masiye Motels, Professor Patrick Mvunga, of leaning on nepotism to twist the case.

He stated that there was a cartel of conspiracy in the matter.

Chilekwa also complained that he had been blacked out from attending the Supreme Court hearing.

The letter further read: "This conduct by the Supreme Court of Zambia is very embarrassing to the MMD as a ruling party and we have a duty to reduce or totally eliminate this nauseous embarrassment because people will construe that the MMD had sunk to the lowest levels of unreasonable adjudication by the Supreme Court of Zambia."

In the same letter, Chilekwa demanded that his matter be reviewed, arguing that the Supreme Court would lose its dignified position if outsiders heard about the matter. Chilekwa in his first letter of January 9, 2010 titled, 'Spiritually humble request to your lordship to maintain integrity of our Supreme Court by giving the respondents the little due to them', started by quoting High Court judge Philip Musonda.

The letter read: "When delivering an administrative Law II lecture to the second year undergraduate law students in 2007 at the University of Zambia premises, the dignified High Court judge Honourable Philip Musonda said, '
We as judges are called Lords because we are expected to be pure. People cannot worship that which is impure and this is why judges are not expected to be corruptible. Speaking for myself as judge, corrupting me is insulting my Lord Jesus Christ'."

Chilekwa alleged that Prof Mvunga lacked both facts and law to help him win the appeal but appealed 'banking' strongly on his personal relationship with the judiciary top hierarchy and its influence.

After the court received the first letter, it instructed lawyer Sambo to advise his client but they were surprised to receive a second letter that was worse than the first one.

At this point, the court decided to cite Chilekwa for contempt to show cause why he should not be punished but before the summons were finalised, they received a third letter which was more caustic.

One of the letters was co-authored by Moses Zulu against whom summons had been issued but could not be traced. A bench warrant has since been issued for his arrest.

Summons were consequently issued and served on Sambo to show cause why he should not be cited and punished for contempt for saying, "Stupid judgment by stupid judges."

When the matter first came up, Chilekwa engaged Eric Silwamba to represent him in the matter but after reading the letters, Silwamba told the court that the letters were contemptuous.

He said he had as a result instructed his client to refrain from such conduct in future.

During the consultation with his client, it appeared Silwamba and Chilekwa differed because when the sitting resumed, he applied to withdraw from representing Chilekwa on professional grounds stating that Chilekwa would represent himself.

Chilekwa asked the court for 10 days to engage what he termed as 'a credible lawyer'. He later engaged Sambo.

In his evidence when he was summoned to show cause why he should not be cited, Sambo said he uttered the words, "stupid judgment by stupid judges" in order to convince his client that the situation was not going to change. He admitted that as an officer of the court, he made matters worse but that his client went on rampage immediately he got the judgment.

Sambo ended his testimony by apologising to the court for having failed it as an officer of the court after being directed to deal with his client.

When it was his turn to address the court, Chilekwa prefaced his testimony by asking the court to discharge Moses Zulu saying he was too young to face the heat but the court said Zulu needed to come to court to speak for himself.

He told the court that the intention of the contemptuous letters he wrote was not to insult or demean the court but to cry for his hard-earned money.

Chilekwa, instead of purging the contempt, rubbed it in by accusing the judges of corruption and ruling in favour of their village mates or relatives. He alleged that judge Marvin Mwanamwambwa was a bit too much on the line of corruption while judge Hildah Chibomba was too much on the side of judges from Eastern Province.

Chilekwa said there was a clique of judges who came from the same village and that they ruled in favour of their relatives while those outside the circle did not stand a chance.

He asked the court to play a CD containing conversations between himself and his lawyer saying his lawyer had uttered disparaging words about the judiciary that he believed 100 per cent hoping that if they listened to it, something in the judge's spirits would be stirred.

Chilekwa cited the clique coming from the same village as President Rupiah Banda, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala and Professor Patrick Mvunga.

He said Prof Mvunga was justice Sakala's brother-in-law and the judge Anderson Zikonda who handled the matter in the High Court was an easterner just like Prof Mvunga and that both of them had been teaching at the University of Zambia.

Chilekwa said judge Zikonda and Prof Mvunga were lucky to get 50 per cent of the money he claimed in the High Court as the two had negotiated the amount.

He told the court that his lawyer Sambo told him that he lost the case because of the relationship between Prof Mvunga and the Chief Justice.

Chilekwa even questioned the capability of Prof Mvunga as Professor saying his submissions in the High Court were below par.

Asked by the court whether he was aware that the court had presided over matters involving even fellow judges, his reply was that he was yet to witness "that interesting scenario".

Chilekwa was also not aware that even the MMD he alleged would be embarrassed by the Supreme Court judgment had lost several cases in court.

He testified that his lawyer had told him all the aforementioned stories and that even when they met after the judgment, the lawyer added fuel to the whole scenario by describing the judgment as a 'stupid judgment by stupid judges' and telling him that judges Mwanamwambwa and Chibomba were too much on the side of corruption and negativity therefore could not withstand the mighty approach of the Professor.

Chilekwa told the court that his lawyer had no kind words for the bench, was bitter and even encouraged his clients not to take cases to court because of what he termed as "the foolishness of the court in twisting things to favour friends and relatives".

On being reminded that Sambo had applied to join the bench, Chilekwa told the court that Sambo was found to be a lame duck on a constitutional discriminatory clause of him being a Jehovah's Witness.

In passing judgment yesterday, Deputy Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima said the court found as a fact that Sambo uttered the words attributed to him as he would have denied it.

Justice Mambilima said Chilekwa admitted having written the three letters and it would appear that together with his lawyer, they discussed at length and came up with beliefs expressed in the three letters.

She said in alleging corruption against the two judges, Chilekwa was courting a fourth count of contempt in the face of the court. Justice Mambilima observed that to justify the loss of their case, Sambo and Chilekwa came up with an equation of looking at the origin of the Chief Justice and his relationship with Prof Mvunga.

She said the court could see Sambo's jaw drop as his client recounted what he had allegedly told him ending by saying that he believed his lawyer 100 per cent.

Justice Mambilima noted that Sambo watched in awe as his client dismissed his apology to the court as cosmetic saying his lawyer had said more disparaging things about the court.

She described as bizarre, a situation where a lawyer and his client could sit to reduce to record through CD untruths aimed at demeaning and disparaging the court.

Justice Mambilima said if Chilekwa had rationally considered what his lawyer had told him, he would have discovered that Prof Mvunga had lost many cases in court and that there was no constitutional provision that prescribed that a Jehovah's Witness cannot be appointed to a higher bench.

She said Chilekwa's own lawyer failed to inform him of the hearing date.

Justice Mambilima said through out his testimony, Chilekwa showed no remorse by making further allegations of corruption against judges.

She disclosed that it was the court's view that Chilekwa from the outset proposed to write letters and made wild allegations under the mistaken impression that he could intimidate and force the court to change the verdict in his favour.

Justice Mambilima said there was no doubt, through Chilekwa's insolent letters, that he and his lawyer were attacking the integrity of the court. She advised that a line had to be drawn between bonafide criticism, outright insults and insolent language.

Justice Mambilima said Sambo's statement, "stupid judgment by stupid judges", could not by any stretch of imagination qualify to be criticism made in good faith as it was an outright insult.

She described as preposterous the argument by Sambo that the words were not intended to insult the court.

It is against this background that the court found Sambo guilty of grave contempt.

Justice Mambilima ruled that there was no doubt that Chilekwa in his letters and testimony before the court used insolent language and made serious allegations of improper conduct and corruption, which he tried to justify on the ground of tribal origin.

She said corruption was a criminal offence severely punishable under the law and any person had the right to invoke the criminal justice system against any adjudicator whom they suspected of corruption by reporting to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Justice Mambilima asserted that wild unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against any member of the bench could not be condoned.

She found Chilekwa guilty on all counts describing his conduct as unacceptable.

Justice Mambilima said Sambo was an officer of the court by virtue of Section 85 of the Legal Practitioners Act CAP 30 of the Laws of Zambia.

She lamented that Sambo abandoned his role and was actually the fuel that propelled Chilekwa to write insulting letters.

Justice Mambilima revealed that never in the history of the country has such an insult been publicly uttered by a lawyer against a court.

The court found Sambo guilty of grave contempt which required a stiffer penalty of a custodial sentence, saying the judgment or proceedings would be handed over to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) to mete out appropriate sanctions under the Legal Practitioners Act.

Justice Mambilima then proceeded to pronounce the jail sentences for Chilekwa and Sambo.

In an interview after judgment, Chilekwa said he expected the judgment because he was fighting abuse of office.

Earlier, Chilekwa who said he had a law degree, explained that every person was born a lawyer and the lawyer in them came out when they were aggrieved thus going to court. He said even mothers in homes knew what constituted justice.

Chilekwa said law was not like witchcraft or shrines that had to be kept secret, that was why it was called administrative law to control the exercise of constitutional power.

Asked to comment on the judgment, Chilekwa's wife said she had no comment.

The Post

Member Signup
Forgot Password