Post Newspapers Editor-in-Chief Fred M’membe today described the libel and contempt of Court charges he is facing together with Rainbow party President Wynter Kabimba as foolish when they appeared before Magistrate Kenneth Mulife for plea.
Mr M’membe was made to apologize and withdraw the contemptuous statement he made on the face of court.
Magistrate Mulife sternly warned Mr M’membe never to repeat such disrespect to the court in future.
And Rainbow Party President Wynter Kabimba, The Post Newspapers and Post Newspapers Editor In-Chief Fred M’membe have pleaded not guilty in a matter they have been sued for Libel and Contempt of Court by former President Rupiah Banda.
Mr. Kabimba 57, the Post Newspapers and its Editor In-Chief Fred M’membe 56 pleaded not guilty this morning before Lusaka Magistrate Kenneth Mulife.
The trio have since been granted a K5,000 cash bail in their own cognizance with two working sureties each.
Magistrate Mulife has since set 20th and 27th April as the date for mention and trial respectively.
This was after Magistrate Mulife dismissed their earlier applications in which they argued that the charges they were facing amounted to duplicity and also asked the Court to refer the matter to the High Court to determine the constitutionality of the count of Contempt.
In dismissing the two applications, Magistrate Mulife explained that he did not think that duplicity arose because despite the charges being drowned from an act of publication through a newspaper, the counts of Libel and Contempt were distinct charges.
Magistrate Mulife also ruled that he did not find any basis to have the matter before his court referred to High Court because the charges the accused are facing are not in any way inconsistent with Article 20 of the Constitution which the trio used in their submission.
He then ordered that the accused take plea but before they could do so Mr. Kabimba, the Post Newspaper and Mr. M’membe asked the court through an application to evoke section 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
The accused through their lawyer Nchima Nchito asked the Court to acquit them owing to absence of the complainant Mr. Banda who has not been attending the proceedings from the time the matter was brought before the court.
In response to the application, lawyers representing Mr. Banda from Keith Mweemba Advocates, Makebi Zulu Advocates and PNP advocates asked the court to dismiss the application on grounds that it was frivolous and vexatious.
Mr. Banda’s lawyers contended that this is because their client was ably represented by counsels and that section 199 of Criminal Procedure Code could not be evoked at the stage of the matter when the accused were only appearing for plea.
Magistrate Mulife found merit in the argument of the complainant’s lawyers and dismissed the application by the defence team after which he ordered that Mr. Kabimba, the Post Newspaper and Mr. M’membe take plea.
The matter has since been adjourned to next month for commencement of trial.