|Mwamba being restrained
from hugging his relatives by a police officer at the Supreme Court yesterday
A witness yesterday maintained that
former president Frederick Chiluba’s spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba admitted to
him that he had authored the two contemptuous articles relating to the Mathew
And judge Gregory Phiri yesterday reiterated his earlier
warning that the media should be factual in their reporting and leave the law to
This is in a matter in which Mwamba is alleged to have
authored and published two contemptuous articles that circulated on the Zambian Watchdog website, which analysed Mohan and his
co-accused Idris and Shabia Patel’s murder case.
in-chief before Supreme Court judge Phiri, who sat as a High Court judge, Post
managing editor Amos Malupenga told the court that Mwamba did not dispute having
authored the two contemptuous and scandalous articles with the first anonymous
article titled, “Sajid Murder — The Plot Thickens” while the second one was
titled, “Mathew Mohan has his testimony damaged the Judiciary- The murder case
that threatens the judiciary” but that he tried to justify what he wrote about
“As I indicated yesterday, the issue of authorship between
Emmanuel and myself was not in dispute. Emmanuel didn’t dispute being the author
of those articles, instead he tried to justify what he wrote about The Post … He
said his reference to The Post in that article was the most innocent compared to
the other things he had written or said about The Post and he was wondering why
The Post was being over-sensitive this time around when, according to him, The
Post didn’t react that way in the past when he had done bigger things. This is
where Amos Chanda comes in …,” Malupenga testified.
He said this in
response to Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) representative Eddie Mwitwa,
who is amicus curiae and wanted to know if it was his, Malupenga’s, evidence
that Mwamba was the author of the articles in question.
He said Mwamba
told him that he was surprised that Lloyd, Zambian Watchdog editor, put the
second analysis on his website when it was only meant for his
Malupenga said he and Mwamba had been friends since 2001. He
identified and touched Mwamba in the accused dock.
Malupenga said he knew
Mwamba’s voice very well because he used to speak with him almost on a daily
basis until recently when he argued with him concerning the anonymous article,
that is when their communication reduced.
Malupenga, however, could not
recall Mwamba’s email address off hand saying he doesn’t usually communicate
with him via email because they mostly speak on phone. He also said he used to
communicate using his Blackberry Bold phone.
And Malupenga yesterday
tendered before court his mobile phone and a letter he wrote to Mwamba where the
two contemptuous articles were attached.
Malupenga further told judge
Phiri that he used a dicta phone to record his conversation with Mwamba and then
transferred the same onto a Compact Disk (CD) using a recording studio in
He produced before court a copy of a CD containing the
conversation as well as its transcript and printouts from his email box showing
the anonymous article he received from Mwamba’s mailbox.
Phiri’s warning followed an application by defence lawyer John Sangwa who
expressed concern at a story published in yesterday’s Post edition under the
headline ‘Chiluba’s aide confessed he wrote contemptuous articles’. Sangwa told
the court that he had reviewed his notes and that there was no recollection of
evidence to that effect.
He submitted that such a headline was misleading
and highly prejudicial to the proceedings adding that that was the very essence
as to why the court was hearing the contempt proceedings involving
“What we have on record are the exchanges that transpired between
the witness (Malupenga) and accused person,” Sangwa said. “I do understand that
the role of the media is simply to report what is happening before this court
and issues of conclusions are a preserve of the court. Reading from this
particular article in the eyes of any ordinary man, the accused person is
already guilty. As the court has previously emphasised, contempt proceedings are
about retaining the integrity of judicial proceedings and assuring people before
court that they must have full confidence in this institution and that they will
receive a free and fair trial as guaranteed by the constitution.”
told judge Phiri that he was seeing all that gradually being undermined by the
article in question and that he deemed it necessary to bring it to the court’s
Ruling on the matter, judge Phiri said Sangwa’s observations
were quite serious. He said even before the contempt proceedings were commenced,
he indicated that in a matter that attracted so much attention because of its
nature of seriousness there was a likelihood of sensationalism. He said he
warned the media to be factual.
Judge Phiri said he agreed with Sangwa
that the role of the media was to report as factually and as truthful as they
should, not to make conclusions in the on-going proceedings as doing so would be
prejudicial to the proceedings.
“…You are entitled to make your own
headlines because you decide that but you should not go in conflict with the
evidence,” judge Phiri said. “You are not trained or qualified to be
adjudicators. Please leave that to the lawyers and courts. As of now, I
reiterate my warning which is on record and was reported by the media: Leave the
law and conclusions to us. Wait for the verdict which will come from
Judge Phiri said Mwamba would remain remanded in custody and
adjourned the matter to next Monday for continued hearing.