Police in Lusaka yesterday warned and cautioned HOT FM News editor Collins Kabwe for allegedly publishing false news contrary to section 67 of the laws of Zambia.
Mr Changwe who arrived at the police Force Headquarters in the company of his lawyer Marshal Mucheende and Station Manager Oscar Chavula at about 10:00 hours was interrogated for about an hour before the police decided to warn and caution him. Police officers who were part of the interrogation team confirmed recording a warn and caution statement from Mr Kabwe who they said opted to remain silent.
“Your colleague opted to remain silent when we saw that we were going nowhere, we decided to warn and caution him for publication of false news contrary to section 67 of the laws of Zambia,” said one of the officers.
But Mr. Muchende of Dindi and Company described the summoning of the journalist as direct assault on the freedom of the press in Zambia. Mr. Muchende said that the summoning and pending arrest of Mr Kabwe was aimed at sending chilling and intimidatory effects on Zambian journalists so that they stop investigative journalism.
“The summoning of Changwe by the police is a direct assault on the freedom of the Press in Zambia with the aim of sending chilling and intimidating effects on journalists in the country so that they are not free to conduct what is called investigative journalism,” said Mr. Muchende. He said that the constitution was clear on the matter by guaranteeing freedoms of the Press and provided that there shall be no derogatory or claw back clauses or exception whatsoever in the freedom of the press and that police was directly assaulting the very same provisions of the constitution. Mr. Muchende also confirmed the recording of warn and caution statement by police from Mr Kabwe on allegations of the publication of false news contrary to section 67 of the laws of Zambia.
“My client understood the charge and opted to remain silent.” said Mr Muchende
Mr. Muchende explained that the offence of publication of false information had taken centre stage in the manner the police were managing the law.
He explained that it was the same charge which Richard Sakala, Simon Mwanza of the Daily Nation and McDonald Chipenzi of FODEP are facing and awaiting the determination of the High Court.
“These people were charged under section 67 of the laws of Zambia, there is also another case Hakainde Hichilema vs the people, you may also be aware that the provision of section 67 have been referred to the High Court for constitutional determination, so for me this is about intimidating journalists,” said Mr. Muchende.