Supreme Court sets March 15 for Bishop Mambo judgment
By Staff Reporter
Bishop John Mambo who voluntarily pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge in the Supreme Court, will be sentenced next Friday, March 15, 2019.
Mambo pleaded guilty saying he didn’t mean to bring the Court into disrepute or undermine its authority.
Bishop Mambo had previously denied the charge and asked for more time to hire a lawyer saying he had not hired one earlier because he did not know what he was called to court for.
But SANAC Executive Director Gregory Chifire maintained his plea of not guilty in the same matter and was later found guilty and jailed for six years.
Rainbow Newspaper Editor-in-chief Derrick Sinjela also pleaded guilty to contempt of court and was jailed for 18 months.
Bishop Mambo is alleged to have committed contempt of court when he wrote a letter to the Chief Justice Iren Mambilima on May 12, 2018, over the Savenda Vs Stanbic matter.
“The legal suit against the bank by Savenda, though given a favourable decision at the lower court, was suspiciously overturned by the higher court on appeal…most judges seem to be more interested in achieving personal ambitions at the expense of justice for all and equality before the law…,” read Bishop Mambo’s letter in part.
But when the matter came up in the Supreme Court before the full Supreme Court bench, Bishop Mambo who was represented by three lawyers, reversed his earlier plea and pleaded guilty to the charge.
His lawyers told the court that their client wanted to purge his contempt.
In his purge, Bishop Mambo apologized for the contemptuous remarks emanating from the letter he wrote.
He said when he wrote it, he did not mean to bring the court into disrepute or undermine its authority.
Bishop Mambo said his intentions were to raise what he believed were concerns of alleged corruption with respect to the judiciary.
“Little did I know that sending the letter would bring me into contempt with the entire bench. My actions are regrettable. I sincerely apologise,” he said as he also quoted some Bible scriptures on forgiveness.
Asked by Justice Mwanamwambwa whether he read the judgments passed by the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court over the Savenda and Stanbic bank case, Bishop Mambo said he didn’t read them.
He said he wished he didn’t write the letter.
“I did not read the judgment apart from what is in public domain. I wish I did not write the letter,” bishop Mambo said.
He accused some media houses of misinterpreting the contents of his letter to Justice Mambilima.
But the Supreme Court ruled that it was reckless for Bishop Mambo to have published a letter before reading about the judgments in that case.
The matter had been adjourned for ruling since September 2018.
And another civil society leader, Gregory Chifire was jailed for 6 years.
Chifire, however jumped borders and he is reported to be in self-imposed exile in South Africa.
Chifire was charged with four counts of contempt of court in connection with Savenda Vs Stanbic judgment.
Sinjela pleaded guilty to contempt of court and was jailed for 18months.
Sinjela, as editor-in-chief of Rainbow Newspaper, published or caused to be published, an article titled; ‘Zambian Supreme Court verdict in the Savenda vs Stanbic Bank is questionable’.