Incarcerated former Chilanga Member of Parliament Keith Mukata is determined to exhaust all legal channels to challenge the Lusaka High Court’s decision to put him ondeath row for murder. Mukata, a lawyer, now plans to go to the Supreme Court to contest the Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss his appeal against the death sentence.
On May 23 this year, the Court of Appeal upheld the death penalty the High Court slapped on Mukata after finding him guilty of shooting dead a security guard at his law firm in Rhodespark, Lusaka. In his submissions in the Court of Appeal, Mukata contended that Justice Susan Wanjelani misdirected herself when she convicted him of murder based on circumstantial evidence, because there was no proof linking him to the death of Mr Namakambwa Kalilakwenda.
But dismissing Mukata’s appeal, Court of Appeal Judge Chalwe Mchenga found that the convict had intentions of killing Mr Kalilakwenda on May 6, 2017. Justice Mchenga said this is so because on the fateful day, Mukata concealed a gun in his car, whose keys were hidden in a flower bed. He further ruled that Justice Wanjelani was on firm grounds when she found that Mukata had intentions of killing his security guard because he put the gun in his vehicle in a basket that contained plates and hid the car keys in a flower bed.
Justice Mchenga ruled that the trial judge could not be faulted when she concluded that Mukata and the security guard were face-to-face at the time of the shooting. He said it was, therefore, impossible that the victim was killed by a gunshot fired from outside the law firm because Mukata, who is a holder of a firearm licence, should have known the effects of shooting at someone.
Justice Mchenga found that there were no intruders at Mukata’s law firm because he was the only one who was at the scene and, therefore, he could not find fault in the trial judge’s decision to dismiss his assertion that there were intruders at the scene. After the verdict of the Court of Appeal, Mukata did not immediately appeal within the prescribed 14 days.
He has now filed a notice of application for leave to appeal against the verdict out of time. Mukata contends that the Court of Appeal erred in law and fact when it dismissed all the grounds of appeal presented before it except one. He argues that the Court of Appeal erred when it maintained Justice Wanjelani’s finding that the victim was shot from inside the law firm when the basis upon which the trial judge made that finding was in fact dismissed on appeal.
“The Court of Appeal erred in law and fact by making conclusions and findings of fact on appeal, unsupported by the evidence on the record,” reads Mukata’s affidavit in support of a notice of application for leave to appeal. He further contends that the Court of Appeal erred when it varied the evidence of the witness regarding the ninemillimetre cartridge he picked from the crime scene.
Mukata states that the grounds of appeal in the notice of intention to appeal have good prospects of succeeding. He wants the Supreme Court to adjudicate and pronounce itself on several findings in his case. “It is in public interest that I be allowed to exercise my right to be heard up to the highest court of the land before my life is taken away,” Mukata says.