By PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE –
A LUSAKA resident who allegedly spread fake rumours that the Republican President would die by May 30, 2014 has pleaded not guilty to publication of false news.
Michael Muzondwa Achiume has since asked the Lusaka magistrate court to dismiss the case saying he could not be charged with the offence because he was neither a media house nor a media practitioner.
This in a matter in which Achiume, 42, of Libala South, is charged with publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public.
It is alleged that on May 28, 2012 in Lusaka, Achiume orally published a statement which was likely to cause fear or alarm to the public stating that “the President will die by May 30, 2014”.
When the matter came up before Lusaka resident magistrate Irene Wushimanga yesterday, Achiume’s defence lawyer Makebi Zulu applied to have the case dismissed, saying the provision under which he was charged did not apply to members of the public but media houses and practitioners.
Mr Zulu, from Makebi Zulu and Company, said the mere saying that someone would die soon, could be a wrong or correct statement but not an offence because all human beings would eventually die.
Achiume said that chapter 20 of the Zambian Constitution guarantees the right for one to express an opinion and that an opinion needed not be true all the time.
He said that the mere statement that one would die did not cause fear or alarm because everyone would die one day.
Achiume said that in the recent past, rumours about President Sata dying had been flying around and no one had been arrested.
The State requested for the adjournment of the matter before it responded to Achiume ‘s application.
Ms Wushimanga adjourned the case to August 5, 2014.