By KT Staffer
Economic and Equity Party leader Chilufya Tayali has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of contempt of court and publishing defamatory statements against a Lusaka citizen Edward Sichali whom he allegedly accused of being sponsored by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to hold a protest at the University of Zambia which saw the death of a fourth year Education Student Vespers Shimuzhila.
Tayali who has understood all the seven counts has denied publishing defamatory statements when he appeared before Magistrate Sylvia Munyinya after he was summoned by the Court to answer to the charges.
The accused is facing four counts of contempt in which he is accused of making several defamatory statements on his Facebook page while judicial proceedings were pending before the court.
He is also facing three counts of publishing defamatory counts in which he made various defamatory statements on social media in which he allegedly stated that the police are dragging their feet when he had given them enough information which they should have picked up to make arrests on the matter.
According to an affidavit in support of a complaint filed by Sichali in the Lusaka Magistrates Court registry, he has stated that after the UNZA riot which occurred on October 4, Tayali published on his Facebook, Press briefing and other forms of social media defamatory statements against Hichilema and him (Sichali).
Sichali has accused Tayali of having stated in a video during a press briefing referring to Edward as being one of the persons who that got money to sponsor or organize the UNZA Riot.
“…..I know even the people that got the money to sponsor or organize the UNZA riot, Edward nawumfwa?” he stated.
He stated that it is in public domain that it is as a result of the same defamatory statements that Hichilema took Tayali to Court for defamation.
Sichali says the words that were uttered by the accused are prejudicial to the pending proceedings in so far as they purport to assert a factual position to the public in general about one of the issues that stand to be determined during the pending proceedings.
He adds that the running commentaries by the accused cannot be justified as being in relation to the to the report he made to the police regarding the UNZA riots as the need not to have published his comments on social media in the manner that he did in order to address the police, especially if there are any investigations that are under way.
In conclusion the complainant stated that as a citizen of Zambia he is entitled to the protection of the law against such wanton and criminal behaviour by the accused person who is determined to continue breaking the law with impunity and will continue to do if not determined from his conduct by the long arm of the law.
Trial Continues commences on December 17.
Meanwhile, the complainant Sichali has just been summoned at Zambia Police Headquarters for interrogations in relation to the allegations by Tayali