LUSAKA High Court Judge Charles Kafunda has rejected the medical report presented to him that James Bwalya, one of the men accused of abducting Pamela Chisumpa and 12 others, is not fit to stand trial due to traumatic spinal code injury.
On Monday, Bwalya’s lawyer Osborne Ngoma told the Court that the accused was involved in an activity that led to a fall and sustained back injuries, therefore required medical examination to ascertain his fitness to attend trial.
Judge Kafunda allowed the application that Bwalya be examined between Monday and Wednesday and the report tendered to Court on April 6, 2023.
But when the matter came up this morning, a medical report dated March 23, 2023 under the hand of Dr. Charles Mbewe of the University Teaching Hospitals-Adult was presented to Court.
According to the medical report, Bwalya has traumatic Spinal code injury and compressed fractures vertebrae, therefore he was unable to stand and walk.
Senior State advocate Bob Mwewa said they were disappointed with the said report because the order of the court was for Bwalya to be examined in his present state.
Mr Mwewa added that the report did not indicate the review date for the patient, therefore there was no return date.
Judge Kafunda rejected the medical report describing it as being casual.
He said the order was very clear that the accused must be examined in his current state and a report tendered on April 6, 2023 and not a previous report.
“As the senior state advocate rightly observes, the accorded report does not give details of when next the patient will be reviewed in order for the principle question of fitness to stand trial to be answered,”
“Dr Mbewe cannot just make a blank statement that the patient is unable to under-go trial. So, what next is the question? Because A1 is unready for trial before this court. All in all, I find the report to be very casual and further that the medical practitioner concerned appears to deliberately lose over the clear directions of the court,” he said.
Justice Kafunda ordered for the examination of Bwalya in his current state and the report tendered on April 17,2023.
He ordered that the reports of their mental fitness also be tendered on the same date.
He directed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health to ensure that the orders of the court as issued are adhered to by his officers to avoid a situation which would appear as if they are being compelled to do so.
“Seriousness must be attached to the proceedings before the court, the matter will therefore be adjourned to 17th April, 2023 for receipt of the two reports,” he said.
Bwalya and his co-accused Matthews Sikaonga, both 22, are facing 54 counts which include abduction, trafficking, rape, aggravated robbery and assault.