THE Lusaka High Court yesterday threatened to revoke the bail granted to former President Rupiah Banda’s son, Andrew, for failing to attend court in a case in which he is challenging the two-year jail sentence slapped on him by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court for alleged corruption in February last year.
This is in an appeal case in which Andrew, a former first secretary at the Zambian mission in Italy, is challenging the decision of the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court to convict and sentence him.
When the matter came up for judgment, High Court judge Mwila Chitabo said it was unacceptable that Andrew was not before court on the day that judgment was to be read.
Mr Justice Chitabo gave Andrew a benefit of doubt and refrained himself from revoking his bail because he has always appeared before the court.
“I was inclined to revoke the appellant’s bail forthright, however, the record reveals that the appellant has endeavoured to attend court at all times,” he said.
Earlier, Andrew’s lawyer Milner Katolo applied to the court not to deliver judgment because his client had not been heard regarding his appeal.
Mr Katolo said he was of the view that the proceedings yesterday were scheduled for hearing and not judgment.
He asked the court for time to submit arguments before judgment can be made.
Mr Justice Chitabo granted the application for an adjournment on grounds that it is important that both the state and the appellant’s lawyers should adhere to court orders on filing of submissions.
He noted that there is public perception that the courts are delaying the delivery of justice when in fact most often it is the litigants who cause such delays through avoidable adjournments.
“Non-compliance in orderly manner of filing submissions by parties will cause an adjournment. It is public knowledge that courts are perceived to be the cause of delays when most often it is the litigants who cause the delays,” Mr Justice Chitabo said.
He said he was ready to deliver judgment but could not do so because Banda had not been heard.
Mr Justice Chitabo can only be seen to be done when Banda is accorded an opportunity to be heard.
“Parties who ignore court orders do so at the detriment of smooth expediency of justice. It is prudent that appellant’s lawyers and the state assist the court to relook the case so that it may not have an undesired apprehension that the appellant was not given an opportunity to be heard,” he said.
Mr Justice Chitabo has set September 9 as the date of hearing and judgment will be delivered on September 25 this year.
Banda, 54, was found guilty by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court of soliciting and receiving over K171,000 as reward for assisting Fratelli Locci SRI, a company owned by Italian businessman Antenello Locci, with Government contracts.
He was charged with one count of receiving gratification for giving assistance on contracts, contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
Banda is accused of allegedly soliciting and agreeing to receive two percent of all the money paid to Fratelli Locci SRI from contracts awarded through the Road Development Agency.