A Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) assistance investigations officer has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that she arrested a woman at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) who had 68 tins of ephedrine concealed in two bags labelled rice flour.
Rosalin Hameja further told the court that Beatrice Saili lied when she testified that DEC apprehended her with 32 tins of ephedrine and US $300.
This is the matter in which suspended Lusaka-based Magistrate Maggie Tantameni is jointly-charged with Felix Mkandawire, a court interpreter; Francis Mphanza a senior public prosecutor and Didie Kangwa a senior clerk of court, with three counts of abuse of authority, removal of property under lawful seizure and stealing of 34.0 kilogrammes of ephedrine valued at K1,870,000, but they all pleaded not guilty.
Saili, a 42 year-old businesswoman, had previously told the court that she was convicted in 2017 after she was apprehended by some DEC officers at KKIA with two bags containing 34 tins of ephedrine weighing 68Kg.
But when the matter came up for continued trial before a Chisamba-based Magistrate siting in Lusaka, Susan Mangilashi, Wednesday, Hameja told the court that she conducted a search on Saili, who was coming from India and found her in possession of 68 tins of ephedrine in the two bags she was carrying.
She added that the ephedrine was concealed in tins labelled rice flour and Saili voluntarily admitted it was ephedrine after asking her.
“I searched a small hand bag she had. Afterwards, I asked her if she had any other luggage and she told me she had two bags. We then went to an office with her two bags labelled rice flour and in the presence of my supervisor, we opened the bags, which had tins with white stuff. I asked her what was in the tins, she told me it was ephedrine,” Hameja narrated.
She said she later on administered a warn and caution statement and obtained a laboratory affidavit confirming that the drug weighed 34Kgs.
During cross-examination, Hameja said she only opened four out of the 68 tins of ephedrine at the airport.
Thereafter, she said she took all the 68 tins to the public analyst where they were all opened.
Hameja further told the court that Saili lied when she testified that DEC apprehended her with 32 tins of ephedrine.
Meanwhile, another witness identified as Nelson Phiri, 37, a DEC officer, said he was tasked to take a male suspect before Honourable Tantameni’s court with the exhibits and was later told me that the court would be held in a library.
He said when he reached the court’s library, he met his colleague who brought the female suspect, Beatrice Saili, with the exhibits.
He later identified Mkandawire, Mphanza and Tantameni as the people who were in the library during the hearing of Saili’s matter.
The matter comes up on February 11 for continued trial.