Lusaka Magistrate Ireen Wushimanga this afternoon ruled that Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili, standing as an accused person, must take plea before the court could delve into preliminary applications.
Sumaili’s lawyer Eric Silwamba had raised preliminary issues arguing whether the DPP should use her powers to take over the matter.
Hichilema’s lawyers have brought criminal contempt charges against Sumaili.
Wushimanga has ruled that the arguments by the accused lawyers were not focused and were simply dragging matters back and forth.
In light of the ruling by the magistrate, Silwamba submitted that the competence and credibility of the proceedings were now in question.
He submitted that the authority the Magistrate relied upon to compel Sumaili to take plea was misapplied.
Silwamba stated that according to section 204, an accused may choose to remain quiet or talk and that those are some of the avenues to be followed.
He said despite his objection he had put it on record that the accused person was ready to start the matter whichever way the Court had guided.
Hichilema’s lawyer Keith Mweemba submitted that it had been canvassed that the accused person could decide to remain quiet but that the law is clear on such, saying the court had powers to make inquiries as to why the accused was refusing to take plea or why he/she chose to remain mute.
He warned that the Court could record a plea of guilty if the accused remains mute on malice.