The Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has granted a K10,000 cash bail with two working sureties bound in a sum of K5,000, each in own recognizance, to a senior clerk of court who’s jointly-charged with Lusaka-based Magistrate Maggie Tantameni and two others for allegedly stealing 34 Kilogrammes of ephedrine valued at K1,870,000.
In this matter, the senior clerk of court, Didie Kangwa; Tantameni; Felix Mkandawire, a court interpreter; Francis Mphanza, a senior public prosecutor; are facing three counts of abuse of authority, removal of property under lawful seizure and stealing by persons in public service.
Kangwa will, however, still be in custody even after he manages to meet his bail conditions because he is facing a non-bailable offence in another court where he’s jointly-charged with court officials and businessmen for trafficking in cocaine.
In this matter, it is alleged in the first count that, Tantameni and Mphanza on November 8, last year, Lusaka, being persons employed in the public service as magistrate and senior public prosecutor, respectively, jointly and whilst acting together, did use the position of their respective offices to obtain property, profit or benefit for themselves or another.
In count two, it is alleged that Mkandawire, Mphanza and Kangwa on the same date jointly and whilst acting together, concealed 34.0 Kilogrammes of ephedrine valued at K1,870.000.
The ephedrine was taken under the process of authority of the court of Tantameni.
And in the third count, it is alleged that Mkandawire, Mphanza, Tantameni and Kangwa between November 8, 2017, and December 30, 2017, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together, did steal 34.0 Kilogrammes of ephedrine. The drug was valued at K1,870,000, property of government, which came into their possession by virtue of their employment.
When the matter came up for trial before Magistrate Susan Mangalashi, the defence applied for an adjournment, saying Mphanza’s lawyer, A2, was out of town and would only be available next year.
The State did not object to the application, but expressed unhappiness that the application had caught them off guard because they had prepared two witnesses.
“They were supposed to file in a notice of adjournment…We have no objection for an adjournment, but then we ask the court to adjourn to the nearest date within January,” the State said.
At this point, Kangwa’s lawyer applied for bail, pending trial on grounds that the offence his client was facing, is bailable.
The defence counsel also acknowledged that Kangwa was facing a non-bailable offence in another court.
In response, the State said it had no objection to the bail application as long as the accused person complied with the conditions that would be set for him.
Magistrate Mangalashi then granted him cash bail in the sum of K10,000 with two working sureties, bound in the sum of K5,000 in own recognizance.
She, however, observed that if the accused was facing a non-bailable offence in another court, he would still be kept in custody.
“I will grant you bail as it’s bailable, but if you are still in another court, we will still keep you in custody. I grant you K10,000 cash bail with two traceable working sureties. Sureties in own recognizance in an amount of K5,000 each,” she ruled.
The matter has been adjourned to January 21, next year, for trial.
The other accused persons are already on bail, pending trial.