Richard Sakala and his co-accused Simon Mwanza and Macdonald Chipenzi have pleaded not guilty to one count of publishing false news and have been granted K10,000 bail each by the Lusaka magistrate Court.
This is in a matter in which Chipenzi, 37, Sakala, 61, and Mwanza, 62, are charged with publication of false information with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to section 67 (1) of the penal code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
When the matter came up for plea before magistrate Lameck Mwale, the trio said they understood the charge but denied committing the offence.
The trio applied for bail but the state objected saying if set free the accused persons would interfere with witnesses and continue to publish the alleged false statements.
But the defence lawyers argued that to state that the accused persons would continue to publish such statements is unattainable and that the accused persons are being subjudiced under the circumstance.
They argued that there is no need to reproduce an article which has been misconstrued by the State and that the accused persons cannot interfere with witnesses especially that they do not know who they are.
“There is no time to start looking for imaginary witnesses to contradict the article which is in black and white. The objection is frivolous and attacks the fundamental rights of the individuals,” they said.
In passing his ruling, magistrate Mwale said the reasons advanced by the state were speculative in nature, when it states that the accused persons would continue to publish the same article.
It is alleged that Chipenzi, Sakala and Mwanza on December 10 this year, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together did publish a false article in the Daily Nation Tabloid volume 3 issue number 632 dated December 10, this year, stating that “The secret police recruitment has been condemned at as a conduit of fusing foreign trained militia into the mainstream police service” a statement or report likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or disturb public peace.
Trial has been set for January 10 next year.