Zambia News

Constitutional Court to hear appeal of mental health verdict regarding abductors

The Constitutional Court is poised to review a court decision stating that James Bwalya, one of the two men charged with kidnapping 13 women, is mentally fit to stand trial.

Osborne Ngoma, Bwalya’s attorney, has said he will ask the Constitutional Court to overturn Lusaka High Court Judge Charles Kafunda’s finding that the 22-year-old is mentally competent to stand trial.

Judge Kafunda decided yesterday that Bwalya is mentally capable of facing the charges against him and should proceed to enter a plea after getting a physical examination for his injured spine.

According to his decision, Bwalya is mentally fit despite having an anti-social personality disorder diagnosis from a doctor because she does not experience hallucinations or illusions.

Bwalya does not have any mental illnesses, according to the medical report that was delivered in court on Monday by psychiatrist Patrick Msoni, according to Judge Kafunda.

In this case, Bwalya and Mathews Sikaonga, both 22, are accused of committing 54 alleged crimes, including rape, assault, and kidnapping, between January and October of last year.

Mr. Ngoma requested that the two be medically checked as soon as the accused were brought before the court to see whether they are fit to be prosecuted.

An assessment of Bwalya indicated that he had an anti-social personality condition that can be connected to his childhood and youth, according to Dr. Msoni, a consultant psychiatrist at Chinaina Hills College Hospital, who told the court about the finding on Monday.

According to the doctor, Bwalya does not comprehend or value the accusations made against him and is therefore unfit to stand trial.

However, the State had argued that Bwalya is qualified to stand trial through senior State lawyer Bob Mwewa, particularly given that Dr. Msoni had said in his report that he does not have a mental disease.

The judge ruled that while Dr. Msoni is free to express his opinion, the court must use it in reaching a decision.

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