The Kaoma Magistrate Court was yesterday a hive of activity as three Barotseland activists appeared for commencement of trial.
The accused Nayoto Mwenda, 32, Boris Muziba, 36 and Sikwibele Wasilota, 33 are charged with the offence of publication of false news with intent to alarm and cause fear or to disturb public peace contrary to Section 67 (1) Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
The trio was appearing before Magistrate Julius Malata for commencement of trial but the matter could not proceed as the state was not ready and applied for an adjournment.
The activists’ supporters who thronged the court, some clad in their traditional red berets, had to wait for over an hour for the three suspects to be ushered into court as the rains poured.
State prosecutor Susan Mwakalombe said the State could not proceed with the trial as the exhibit in the matter was not before the court.
Ms Mwakalombe told the court that the state had not yet received the exhibit from handwriting experts in Lusaka and requested that the matter be adjourned to March 11, 2014 for commencement of trial.
And the suspects, who did not object to the State’s application, requested the court to transfer their case to the Commonwealth Court since according to them they were not Zambian citizens.
They said that they want to appear before the Commonwealth as it was a signatory to the Barotseland agreement of 1964.
They contended that Zambia cannot be a complainant and a judge at the same time as it was against the rules of natural justice hence their request to be tried by the Commonwealth Court which they said would be impartial.
Magistrate Malata told the trio, who are representing themselves, that he cannot stop them from pursing their matter to the Commonwealth Court and advised them to do so at their own accord.
Mwenda, Muziba and Wasilota intermittently attempted to produce documents in court as part of their submissions but Magistrate Malata advised the accused to present them as exhibits when trial commences.
Magistrate Malata adjourned the matter to March 11, 2014 and the accused remain remanded in custody at Kaoma state prison.
After the adjournment the activists’ slogan-chanting supporters sang praise songs that included the Barotseland “national anthem” as the suspects were being led back to prison.