ANA
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1 minute read
17 Jul 2015
1:12 pm

Zambian Post journalists released on bail

ANA

Fred M’membe, editor-in-chief and Mukosha Funga, a reporter, of Zambia’s Post newspaper, were released from police custody on Friday after being granted bail of 30,000 kwacha (R813) each by Lusaka magistrate Humphrey Chitalu.

Fred M’membe, editor-in-chief of the country’s Post newspaper, being escorted to police cells. Picture: ANA

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They had been arrested on Thursday and charged under section five of the State Security Act for publishing a secret document.

Two months ago the Post, Zambia’s top independent newspaper, had published a story which quoted a letter that the Anti-Corruption Commission had written to President Edgar Lungu, informing him of investigations the commission was conducting against his political aide, Kaizer Zulu, who allegedly received $200,000 from a Chinese contractor.

Zulu is said to have received the bribe to help the Chinese contractor obtain construction contracts from the government.

M’membe’s lawyers had asked for bail on Thursday, but state prosecutors objected to the application, arguing that the matter could only be heard in the High Court.

Magistrate Chitalu, in granting bail on Friday, said the state prosecutors were misconceived in objecting to the granting of bail as his court was mandated by law to do that.

The two journalists are to appear again in the same court on August 17, to face the charges under the State Security Act. The minimum sentence under the act is 15 years in jail and the maximum 25 years.

The Post had a good relationship with previous President Michael Sata, who died of illness while in office last year. But even though Lungu is from the same political party as Sata, the Patriotic Front, he and the newspaper have a bad relationship, in part because the Post backed Miles Sampa, Sata’s nephew, and not Lungu, as the party’s candidate for the presidential elections in January this year.