FORMER President Rupiah Banda has been allowed to start contempt proceedings against immigration officials who blocked him from travelling to South Africa to attend a conference on Friday last week.
Lusaka High Court judge-in-charge Jane Kabuka permitted Mr Banda to start contempt proceedings against Immigration Department director general Moola Milomo and officer Peter Mwansa in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Banda has asked the Lusaka High Court to commit to prison Mr Milomo and Mr Mwansa for disregarding and disrespecting a court order which permitted him to travel out of the country.
“Upon reading the application and upon hearing counsel for the applicant (Mr Banda), it is ordered that leave be and is hereby granted to commence contempt proceedings against the alleged conterminous,” Mrs Justice Kabuka said.
This is contained in an ex-parte leave to commence contempt proceedings filed in the Lusaka High Court by Mr Banda’s lawyers.
Justice Kabuka has not yet set dates when the contempt proceedings will start.
On Friday last week, Mr Banda was stopped from leaving the country by immigration officers at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport but Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu maintained that the former head of State may tamper with evidence and witnesses abroad.
Mr Lungu said the former President was blocked from travelling abroad because he is under a travel embargo.
This prompted Mr Banda, through his lawyers Sakwiba Sikota, Patrick Mvunga, Irene Kunda and Makebi Zulu, to ask the High Court to commence contempt proceedings against Mr Milomo and Mr Mwansa.
The action to stop the former head of State from travelling to South Africa was condemned by the Law Association of Zambia who described steps by immigration officers as not only being illegal but also directly bordering on contempt of court.
The former President, facing criminal charges, reacted angrily to the order which prevented him travelling to South Africa and said: “If they think I will run away from Zambia, I cannot because Zambia is my home.”
But Mr Lungu has insisted that Mr Banda whose son has sought refuge in South Africa is a ‘flight risk’.