Three arrested for planing to assassinate RB and Kaizer Zulu
Two soldiers and a businessman were arrested last month for allegedly conspiring to assassinate former President Rupiah Banda and special assistant to the President for political affairs Kaizer Zulu.
The three have since been charged with two counts of conspiracy and they appeared in the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court yesterday for explanation of the charge.
Steven Phiri, Steven Chooka and Milner Mwanakapwe are also charged with unlawful possession of other people’s National Registration Cards (NRCs).
When the matter came up, the State applied for an adjournment so that the charges can be separated because conspiracy to murder can only be tried by the High Court while unlawful possession of NRCs can be heard in the Magistrate’s Court.
But defence lawyers objected to the application and asked the court to dismiss it.
In his ruling, senior resident magistrate Kenneth Mulife adjourned the matter to today for plea in the unlawful possession of NRCs and explanation of the charge in the conspiracy to murder case.
Mr Mulife also reserved ruling for bail application to today.
This was after defence lawyers applied for bail stating that the accused persons have been in custody for over a month.
“Your honour, we wish to make another application for bail, pursuant to Section 123 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The law is clear that any person arrested over a bailable offence can be granted bail,” one of the defence lawyers, Keith Mweemba, said.
But State prosecutor Godfrey Mwanyino objected to the application on grounds that the accused persons are a danger to the witnesses in the matter.
“Your honour, we have considered that the offences the accused stand charged with are bailable and being the discretion of the court to grant bail to the accused.
“However, we strongly object the application because some witnesses who are key in this matter, whose lives are in danger, may be interfered with,” he said.
Another defence lawyer, Martha Mushipe, argued that the court has discretion to grant bail upon fulfilment of the set conditions.
“Your honour, the accused persons are of fixed abode, able to provide sureties and two of them are service men in the defence force and they reside in a barrack situated in Lusaka West.
“Our view is that this court grants them bail on the basis of our submissions and the fact that two of them are unwell and need medical attention,” she said.
However, Mr Mulife said the court could not grant bail to the accused persons before taking plea and explanation of the charges.
It is alleged that between June 30 and August 8 this year in Lusaka, Phiri and Chooka, who are soldiers, and Mwanakampwe, a businessman, jointly and while acting together with other unknown people, conspired to murder Mr Banda and Mr Zulu.
The three suspects are also alleged to have unlawfully possessed eight NRCs belonging to other people.