A Lusaka businessman has admitted in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he has no independent evidence to prove that his story about court officials giving him cocaine to sell, is not concocted.
And the defence lawyers have questioned the veracity of the witness’ evidence-in-chief saying he had previously told his lawyer that he was innocent and knew nothing about the case, yet he managed to testify that he was selling the drugs on behalf of the accused.
Meanwhile, the witness, Charles Nkuwa, told the court that he was no longer a drug dealer as he had now reformed.
This was after defence counsel Keith Mweemba wondered whether the witness could reform, noting that he was once convicted for similar charges of drug tracking before the current case.
In this matter, businessmen; Eric Chipango, Emmanuel Chimba and court officials; Emmanuel Chirwa, Bearvan Mengo, Mathews Mukanda, Victor Nzaila, Florence Mushoka, O’Brian Muyunda and Didie Kangwa, a senior clerk of court, have been charged with one count of trafficking in 80.11 grams of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of trafficking in 1 Kg of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chimba, a businessman and Chirwa a court interpreter are facing another count of trafficking in 1.5 grams of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chirwa has also been slapped with one more count of trafficking in 4.5 grams of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of theft by servant where he’s alleged to have stolen 4.5 grams of cocaine, the property of the government of Zambia.
Meanwhile, all seven court officials have been charged with one count of theft by servant where they are alleged to have stolen 24 kilograms of cocaine between August 4, 2017 and August 9, 2018, the property of the government of Zambia.
Charles Nkhuwa, a businessman at Katondo Street, was initially charged with the accused persons before the State entered a nolle prosqui in a case where the accused were facing three counts of drug trafficking, but was set free.
Nkuwa had previously narrated how his business partner, Chipango, introduced him to a drug business involving court officials.
He testified that after different transactions, he came to discover that the cocaine which he was being asked to sell came from court.
When the matter came up before a Siavonga based magistrate Victoria Chitulangoma sitting in Lusaka for continued cross examination, Wednesday, the magistrate warned the defence and State to avoid raising unnecessary applications which would delay the matter.
When Mweemba continued with his cross examination, he reminded the witness that before he was set free, he had told his lawyers during his interview that he was innocent and knew nothing about the case.
Nkuwa agreed to that.
Mweemba then wondered how the witness was able to testify in court when he had previously claimed to be innocent.
“Either you lied to your lawyers or you lied to the court. Which is the truth, what you told your lawyers or the court? You told your lawyers that you are completely innocent, you don’t know anything about this case. But now you are telling the court that you know something about this case, that you were selling drugs on their behalf. Which of the two statements is a lie?” he asked.
However, the witness insisted that non of the statements was a lie.
“What I have told the court is the truth. There is no lie,” he said.
Asked who he sold the said drugs to, Nkuwa said one was from South Africa, the other from Malawi.
He however claimed not to know the people he sold the drugs to.
Asked how someone from South Africa knew that Nkuwa was a drug dealer, the witness said, “different people come to Katondo. The connection came from South Africa. There’s a friend of mine in South Africa Dennis, he sent them to me,” he said.
Further asked how someone from Malawi was able to know about the business, Nkuwa said they met in prison in 2014 when he was convicted for three years for the same offence.
At this point, Mweemba wondered when the witness would reform.
“In-spite of you having been convicted, instead of reforming you were discussing criminality issues whilst in prison. Are you ever going to reform?” he questioned.
In response, Nkuwa said he was now reformed.
Asked whether Nkuwa had independent evidence to show that the accused gave him the cocaine to sell on their behalf and that his evidence-in-chief was not falsely concocted to implicate them, Nkuwa admitted that he had no evidence.