COMMOTION erupted inside a court room at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday involving the prosecution and defence as an Assistant Returning Officer for Kinondoni Parliamentary by-election was testifying during the trial of nine senior officials of Chadema.
It all started when the prosecution, led by Principal State Attorneys Faraja Nchimbi and Zainabu Mango, Senior State Attorneys Wankyo Simon and Jacqueline Nyantori, called Ms Victoria Charles to the witness box to give her testimony in the sedition trial.
As the witness was explaining how political parties are required to conduct themselves during election campaigns before Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba, two of the defence advocates rose up, with one moving towards the witness box after sensing that she had some papers.
Prosecuting attorney Wankyo Simon got amazed with such move and asked the court to warn the defence attorneys for such unbecoming behaviour.
Before the magistrate uttered a word, Advocate Kibatala also rose up, apparently reporting leading attorney, Mr Nchimbi, to the court over his conduct.
Mr Kibatala accused Mr Nchimbi of uttering harsh words to the two defence advocates. The situation turned into chaos as the two sides were trading harsh words, with the prosecution insisting that what the defence had done amounted at intimidating the witness.
The magistrate was forced to intervene by calling the police to calm down the situation. But he was quick to react,
"All things have been going very well during the conduct of these proceedings. But you appeared to have changed today. What have you eaten, you people?" he remarked.
After restoring the situation to normal, the magistrate warned that he would not hesitate to lock up in a cell, whoever would be responsible for such misconduct. "This is what contempt of court amounts to. Please, be warned," the magistrate warned.
During her examination in chief, the witness told the court that according to the 2015 presidential, parliamentary and councillor elections code of ethics, political parties are supposed to refrain from engaging in any situation that amounts to a breach of peace.
Among the prohibited acts, according to the witness, include using abusive language, using scandalous and threatening language and carrying weapons during campaigns.
The accused persons in the trial are Chadema National Chairman Freeman Mbowe, the party's Secretary General Vicent Mashinji, John Mnyika, the Deputy Secretary General (Mainland) and Salum Mwalimu, who is Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar).
Others are Peter Msigwa (Member of Parliament for Iringa Urban), Halima Mdee, the MP for Kawe, John Heche, the MP for Tarime Rural and Ester Bulaya, who is MP for Bunda Urban as well as the MP for Tarime Urban, Ester Matiko.
They are charged with counts that include conspiracy to commit offences, unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation, raising discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes, sedition and inciting commission of offences.
The charges are alleged to have been committed between February 1 and 16, 2018 in the city.
The prosecution alleges that on February 16, 2018 along Kawawa Road at Mkwajuni area, being assembled with intent to carry out a common purpose, jointly and together, all accused persons conducted themselves in such a manner as to cause a fear of breach of peace.
It is claimed further that on the same day and place, with more than 12 other persons not in court, having riotously assembled, in disobedience of proclamation given by a police officer, the accused persons failed to disperse and continued to take part in the riot.
Thereby, according to the prosecution, the accused persons breached the peace and terrified the public, culminating in the death of National Institute of Transport (NIT) Student Akwilina Akwiline Baftaa, and injury of two police officers, Police Constable Fikiri and Corporal Rahim Msangi.
According to the prosecution, on the same day at Buibui grounds, while addressing Kinondoni residents at the public meeting, Mbowe, Mdee and Heche uttered statements likely to raise discontent and promote feelings of ill-will amongst the inhabitants of the United Republic of Tanzania.
The prosecution alleged further that Mbowe, in related offences, uttered seditious statements with the intention of bringing hatred and contempt to the citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania against the lawful authority of the government.