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THE Chipata Magistrates’ Court has sentenced an evangelist to 15 months imprisonment with hard labour for defamation of the President.
Evangelist Benson Tembo allegedly defamed President Hakainde Hichilema at Vizenge clinic on May 19, 2022 when he called the Head of State a Satanist in his preaching.
The prosecution called three witnesses, while Tembo called three defence witnesses.
Tembo testified that he was preaching in the mountains after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he was informed by angel Gabriel to reveal the suffering of the people and that COVID-19 was not real.
Tembo said he was guided by God and angel Gabriel to preach at Vizenge clinic grounds where he allegedly called the President a Satanist in his preaching which was captured on phone by onlookers.
One of the defence witnesses Stephen Tembo said he was there when the accused was preaching at Vizenge clinic and that he was preaching on COVID-19.
When asked by public prosecutor Jeff Mwanabeene whether he heard the accused calling the President a Satanist in his preaching, Tembo said he heard but maintained that he did not defame the President.
Another witness, Dorcas Tembo, said on the material day, the accused was preaching based on the readings of Revelation 13, 14-18.
“The accused was preaching about COVID-19 and the last days. He said in the last days there will be a beast bearing [the mark] 666; he mentioned that the Bible forewarned us about the last days. We went to the hospitals, bars, schools and villages to preach and I am the one who was reading the Bible verses,” Dorcas said.
When asked in cross examination whether she was at Vizenge where the accused was even captured on video defaming the President, the witness answered in the affirmative.
Asked whether she heard him say the President sold the country to the Chinese and Americans and that he was a Satanist, the Dorcas said she did not pay attention to that part.
Another defence witness, Ruth Banda, said she was not there on the May 19 when Tembo was preaching at the clinic but only heard about the issue the following day after he was arrested.
When asked to mitigate by principal resident magistrate Boniface Mwala, Tembo said he was the first offender, before repeating his alleged defamatory statement.
In his judgment, magistrate Mwala said the convict appeared not to be remorseful as he continued to perpetuate his defamatory statement.
He said the 15-month sentence is effective August 30, 2022 which was the judgment day since he was on bail.

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