THE Livingstone Magistrates Court has freed two senior civil servants who were convicted and jailed last week for contempt of court after spending the weekend in prison.
Acting director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlifem (formerly ZAWA) Chuma Simukonda and his assistant director for legal Ms. Misozi Ngulube-Chipanuka were jailed last Friday for instructing the Zambia Police to disobey court orders.
The two appeared before Magistrate Benjamin Mwelwa.
This is in a case in which Simukonda, 54, of Kafue and Ms. Ngulube-Chipanuka, 28, of Lusaka, authored a letter dated January 19 this year directing the Southern Province Police Commissioner Goodwin Phiri to ask his officer at Livingstone’s Dambwa police post to disobey court orders which they felt were irregular.
The matter arose from a case in which Reuben Chikumba, 34, a former human resource officer at the defunct ZAWA office in Livingstone, assaulted his work mate, Nosiku Linenga, 37, a public prosecutor.
When the matter came for sentencing on Monday, Magistrate Mwelwa said he had difficulties in proceeding with the matter as he was informed that the record of the case was with the judge in charge at the Livingstone High Court.
Mitigating on their behalf, their lawyer Major Isaac Masonga of KBF and Partners, urged the court to use maximum leniency and mercy on the duo.
Maj Musonga said that Ms. Ngulube-Chipanuka was apologetic to the
court and did not mean to demean the court as she holds it in high esteem and that she was a mother of a two-year-old daughter, who was being looked after by her husband.
The lawyer told the court that Mr Simukonda was asking for forgiveness as he did not know the implications of his conduct.
And in his judgment, Magistrate Mwelwa said that Ms. Ngulube-Chipanuka was an officer of the court who should have protected the sanctity of the court as she was fully aware of the procedures of the court.
Magistrate Mwelwa however said that he had considered that the two were not criminals, adding that the whole weekend which they spent in prison
was enough lesson despite their actions of demeaning the authority of the court as the letter was attacking the integrity of the court.
“I have considered that you are first offenders and that you are not criminals, therefore I will give you an absolute discharge despite having convicted you of contempt,” he said.