Friday stormed Post Newspapers offices to arrest Post
editor-in-chief Fred M'membe despite High Court judge Albert Wood’s
directive and order that proceedings relating to the alleged contempt case
be stayed. Judge Wood directed that the proceedings relating to the alleged
contempt of court case involving M'membe, his deputy Sam Mujuda and Professor
Muna Ndulo be stayed until after the hearing of a motion for judicial
A team of six plain-clothe police officers from Lusaka Central
Police led by the Criminal Investigations Officer (CIO) - a Mr Shula - stormed
The Post premises at about 17:20 hours and demanded to see M'membe.
officers were then led to where M'membe was in the company of
They demanded that they arrest M'membe but Mujuda produced a High
Court order granted by judge Wood in favour of M'membe and other
When judge Wood's order was availed, the police officers
doubted the authenticity of the document.
The officers then contended
that they were not aware of the court order, arguing that if they had known
about it they would not have come for M'membe.
After scrutinising the
court order, Shula insisted that they could not leave M'membe until they proved
the genuineness of the court order and receive further instructions from their
Shula was in constant communication with his
superiors on phone enquiring the next step to take.
Amidst this drama,
M'membe was still in the office and he was not allowed to leave.
Mujuda took a copy of the court order to Lusaka division police commanding
officer Greenwell Ng'uni who had earlier on demanded to see it.
approximately 18:36 hours, Post lawyers George Chisanga and Remmy Mainza arrived
and joined Mujuda in trying to convince the police officers.
explained to the lawyers that they no longer doubted the court order, but that
they could not just leave until they received further instructions.
police officer was heard saying theirs was a difficult profession where people
were made to just follow orders.
"Sir you should understand that police
is a disciplined profession. We are not like you people, we follow orders. Yes.
I've seen the court order and in my view it's genuine, but I can't just leave
without my bosses ordering me to leave. Please don't think we are here to cause
problems, we are just following orders. I wish you could understand our
predicament Sir," said the officer.
But Mainza reminded him that under
normal circumstances police should have left his client the moment they saw the
"We have given you a court order that has the signature of a
High Court judge. The bench warrant you are talking about was issued by
magistrate [Charles] Kafunda and has now been superseded by a High Court order.
So what is your problem?" Mainza asked.
Chisanga warned the police
officers that they would face the consequences of disobeying a court order if
they went ahead with the arrest.
"It is quite a disappointment that you
as police officers can choose to disobey a court order. And it is only in Zambia
where such behaviour can be displayed. Are you as an individual disputing this
court order?" Chisanga asked one of the officers.
The police officer
responded that he was not disputing but working under orders.
many bench warrants issued in our courts everyday and you people are always
there. You know what I'm talking about, but have you ever treated such bench
warrants in the same manner you are treating my client's bench warrant? There
are some bench warrants that you do not even execute as police officers, but on
this one you are so eager to arrest my client even after being shown a High
Court order restraining you from doing so. Mind you, a High Court is superior to
a magistrate court. And if you force yourselves on my client I will file for
contempt against you as individual police officers. You will face the
consequences alone and your bosses will not be there for you," Chisanga
Shula later told the lawyers that the court order that Mujuda had
earlier delivered to Lusaka Central Police had been taken to Police force
headquarters for verification.
At this point, Chisanga asked on what
basis the Inspector General of Police could verify a court order.
disappointed that people can't obey a court order until the IG has seen it.
Disobeying a court order is a serious contempt. I'm sure as a person who granted
the order; judge Wood would be angry with you if he heard this. What it means is
that you have chosen to say 'to hell with the court order', that's what you are
telling the judge. Are you not supposed to go back now that you have seen a
court order? We have served this court order on Mr Shula who is your team leader
and that's enough," Chisanga argued.
And M'membe complained that police
were detaining him illegally since the court order had been served on
"If their boss can take a court order to Force headquarters for
verification, then you can understand their predicament. I imagine what would
have happened to me if they found me at my home. Imagine if they came to my home
and then I showed them the court order, they could have just ignored it and
arrested me with a court order in my hands. If they can disobey a court order in
the presence of lawyers then it could have been worse if I was alone. They have
been given specific orders to arrest this 'dangerous criminal, M'membe and lock
him up'," M'membe said. "But their bosses are failing to accept the reality that
there is a court order stopping them from going ahead with the arrest. I know
that if you arrest me today it would bring a lot of excitement to the people who
sent you. But they are so disappointed with the court order that they can't
accept the reality on the ground. I know that all this is coming from Rupiah
because he had said that one day he would catch us. And maybe he thought that
today he has caught us. So this court order has disappointed him and his
colleagues. And in any case, why am I being detained here with a court
M'membe and his lawyers were made to wait for over two hours
before Shula got instructions that they should proceed to Lusaka Central Police
But Chisanga refused to have M'membe accompany them to the
police since there was a court order.
"My client is not going with you to
the police station. As far as I'm concerned he is a free man because there is a
court order in his favour," Chisanga argued.
It was then resolved that
only the lawyers should accompany police to the station, around 19:59
Upon arriving at Lusaka Central Police Station at 20:06 hours,
Ng'uni demanded that everyone else stayed behind, except for Mujuda, Chisanga
"Let us have order, we want to reason with you. We are only
going in with the three lawyers, the rest can remain here and wait," Ng'uni
Ng'uni and M'membe's lawyers, who were joined by Prof Ndulo's
lawyer Vincent Malambo then went into a meeting for over an hour.
when the meeting finished around 21:16 hours, Mainza said the police had made an
undertaking to comply with the court order.
"They are going to verify
whether or not the Attorney General has been served with the order tomorrow. But
in the mean-time they are not taking any further steps until they have verified.
If the Attorney General confirms that the order has been served on them they are
prepared to comply with the court order. As things stand the order will have to
be obeyed by the police," Mainza said. "We don't expect the police to start
looking for Fred in the night, they have made an undertaking. We met Mr Ng'uni
who is the commanding officer and his deputy, there was also the district
prosecutions officer (DPO) and the CIO was also in attendance in the meeting so
that is how the meeting ended. Mr [Frank] Mumbuna was also in attendance so they
have undertaken not to enforce the bench warrant until they have verified with
the Attorney General tomorrow [yesterday]."
On Friday, judge Wood
directed and ordered that proceedings relating to the alleged contempt of court
case involving M'membe, Mujuda and Prof Ndulo be stayed until after the hearing
of the motion for judicial review.
According to an order granting leave
to apply for judicial review filed in the Lusaka High Court at the principal
registry, justice Wood directed that further proceedings relating to the case be
Judge Wood's directive comes in the wake of the decision by
Lusaka chief resident magistrate Charles Kafunda last Wednesday to issue a bench
warrant for arrest against M'membe on grounds that he was fully aware of having
been summoned to court but did not present himself before court.
defence lawyers in the case where US-based Zambian Professor of law Ndulo and
The Post editor-in-chief have been cited for contempt argued that the matter was
improperly taken before court.
This follows a complaint by the
prosecutors in the matter in which Post news editor Chansa Kabwela is facing one
count of circulating obscene matters or things contrary to the law that an
article authored by Prof Ndulo and published in The Post newspaper edition of
August 27, 2009 was contemptuous.