Two Lusaka magistrates have recused themselves from handling the case involving former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Ronnie Shikapwasha, his former Permanent Secretary, Samson Phiri and Journalist, Chanda Chiimba III.
Today when the matter came up for reallocation after a meeting in chambers between Lusaka magistrate, Mwaka Mikalile, who handled the matter first, magistrate Mikalile recused herself and decided that the matter be sent back to the Chief Resident Magistrate for a reallocation.
And Chief Resident Magistrate, Joshua Banda, reallocated the matter to Magistrate Aridah Chuulu who also recused herself on moral grounds, saying she was handling another case where the third accused person, Samson Phiri, was appearing on similar charges.
Magistrate Chuulu asked the Anti Corruption Commission Prosecutor, Silumesi Muchula, if he informed the Chief Resident Magistrate on the coincidence, adding that in the interest of justice and fairness it was not possible for her to handle two cases involving the same accused person.
Magistrate Chuulu further said the situation could only be possible if there was only one magistrate, adding that such is not the case and therefore decide to send back the case to the Chief Resident Magistrate for relocation.
However, responding to the magistrate’s decision, defence lawyer, Hobday Kabwe, said he was also wondering why the magistrate had to allocate this matter to Ms Chuulu’s court knowing that there was another similar case his client was answering too.
But Anti Corruption Commission Prosecutor, Zenzo Zaza, told the court that it was possible that the Chief Resident Magistrate was not aware of the coincidence as he could have not allocated the matter to Ms Chuulu.
And Chief Resident Magistrate, Joshua Banda decided that the matter comes up for possible plea today at 14:30 hours.
Yesterday when the matter came up for plea, the matter could not take off as the prosecution team from the Anti Corruption Commission came late.
Mr Shikapwasha, Dr Phiri and Chiimba III are facing charges of abuse of office authority, unlawful printing and publication and being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.