THE Kabwe High court has sentenced leader of the Linyungandambo and two others to 10 years imprisonment each with hard labour after finding them guilty of treason.
The fourth accused, secondary school teacher Paul Masiye Masiyaleti, was acquitted.
Afumba Mombotwa, 58, Sylvester Inambao Kalima, 62, and Likando Pelekelo, 59, were handed the jail sentences on Wednesday by Judge-in-Charge Dominic Sichinga.
Reading the over two-hour judgment before a packed courtroom, Mr Justice Sichinga said that the prosecution had proved their case that the three did actively take part in declaring Western Province an independent state from the rest of Zambia contrary to the Constitution which states that Zambia shall be a unitary state.
The acts were said to have taken place by the three jointly and whilst acting together with other people unknown in Livingstone, Kalabo, Mongu and Sioma.
He said that Mombotwa was unlawfully sworn in as Administrator General and took oath thereafter while the prosecution had proved that Kalima and Pelekelo equally took part by virtue of having admitted to have taken positions in the provisional government as announced by Mombotwa.
Judge Sichinga cited Section 22 of the Penal Code which states that if two or more people collude to commit an offence, each of them shall be guilty and that the second and third accused were equal participants.
However, it was established that even if the fourth accused, Masiyaleti was named in the provisional government, it was not disputable that he was a nephew to Mombotwa and was only apprehended from court premises when he went to attend the hearing of his uncle.
It was further established that the swearing ceremony did not take place at his house in Sioma and that it would be incorrect to attribute him to the alleged offence though the court could consider him as a sympathiser of the cause and the Linyungandambo in this case.
Based on that Mr Justice Sichinga acquitted Masiyaleti, a teacher of Sioma Secondary School.
The court established that although the defence submitted that the acts of the trio were backed by the resolutions of the Barotse National Council (BNC) meeting of 2012, which called for among other things the termination of the Barotse Agreement of 1964 through constitutional consultations and avenues, the acts of the trio were illegal and unconstitutional.
He reminded the accused that the charge they were facing carried with it a maximum of 20 years with hard labour and had no option of a fine.
But in mitigation the defence lawyer said that his clients were senior citizens who had families and had been in custody since the time of their arrest. Mr. Mweemba further mitigated that the accused have reflected on their actions and prayed to the court for maximum leniency. The judge thereafter pronounced the jail sentences on each one of them and said that they would run from the date of their arrest. The judge said that the sentence would serve as a deterrent to would-be perpetrators.
Mr Masiyaleti said outside court that it was not easy to be freed after such a lengthy trial full of tribulations but was grateful that his innocence had been proven.
And defence lawyer Mr. Mweemba from the Legal Aid Board said the defence team had done everything possible and was hopeful that something tangible would come out but could not argue with the outcome which he said was fair considering the fact that the maximum sentence was 20 years as prescribed by law.
He said that he would sit down with his clients and find out whether they intended to appeal the judgment which he described as fair.
Meanwhile, Chris Lubasi, a family member said that the family was shocked by the judgment though it was expected as evidenced by the suffering the convicts had gone through.
Many family members and traditionalists who travelled to Kabwe to hear the judgment sang solidarity songs as the prison truck drove off.
During trial, several items like proposed currency notes called Mupu, a shotgun, spears, bows and arrows and a constitution and Barotse defence forces guidelines were displayed as exhibits.
A diamond testing machine and the Barotse national anthem and a list of the provisional government which the accused said was composed of people who were to push for the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement were also tendered as exhibits.