The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday failed to proceed with preliminary hearing of sedition case facing Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) Group Managing Editor Theophil Makunga, Tanzania Daima Managing Editor Absalom Kibanda and columnist Samson Mwigamba because the prosecution side was not prepared.
The prosecution side led by State Attorney Ladslous Komanya told the court presided over by Resident Magistrate Walialwande Lema that they had not prepared the preliminary hearing for the accused because they knew Kibanda would not appear in court, as he had notified them of his absence.
According to the prosecution side, Kibanda presented a letter to them stating that he would be attending a training programme outside the country between May 9 and 18, this year.
He claimed that the accused requested for his passport, which the court gave him. Komanya also claimed that public prosecutor Elizabeth Kaganda was absent because she was having other official duties.
Moreover, another accused Makunga also requested the court to give him his passport because he was supposed to travel to South Africa to attend a meeting of retired Commonwealth leaders between May 21 and 28, this year.
State Attorney Komanya rejected his request, saying the accused did not present in the court any official document showing he was invited to the meeting. However, he said he would grant him permission on presenting an invitation letter.
According to the charge sheet, Makunga is charged alone with printing a seditious article, while Kibanda and Mwigamba are charged for publishing a seditious article in a tabloid.
According to the public prosecutor, Kibanda and Mwigamba allegedly published in Tanzania Daima newspaper on November 30, 2011 under a headline ‘Waraka maalum kwa askari wote’ (meaning “a special letter to all security forces”) intended to cause disaffection against the lawful authority through the Kalamu ya Mwigamba column.
The case was adjourned until June 26, this year, when it comes up for preliminary hearing.