A chief investigations officer at the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has told the Lusaka High Court that properties belonging to former ZAF Commander Lt General Eric Chimese and that of Chita Lodge Limited are the same, adding that both are on Farm 2303/Q in Lusaka.

This is the matter in which Chita Lodge Limited has sued DEC and the State for allegedly seizing its property in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill area on the premise that it is owned by former Zambia Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Eric Chimese.

Chita Lodge Limited, through its managing director James Chungu, who is also jointly-charged with Chimese on charges of concealing property in the Subordinate Court, had sued the Attorney General as the first respondent and DEC as second, saying the seizure itself was irregular, illegal, unfair and unreasonable because the said premises had never belonged to Chimese.

However, in February this year, DEC chief investigations officer Mukelabai Kwaleyela raised preliminary issues, stating that the Court should determine whether Chungu was in order to bring to court matters that were subject of criminal proceedings before the Chief Resident Magistrate of the Subordinate Court.

He further asked the Court to determine whether it had jurisdiction to entertain Chungu’s application even if it was out of time.

Kwaleyela argued that, Chungu, through Chita Lodge Limited, had devised a ploy to defeat the cause of criminal justice in the matter where he has been arrested and charged, by abusing court with his application for leave to apply for judicial review in order to render the criminal proceedings futile.

He further stated that Chungu wanted to use the process of judicial review to obtain documentary evidence and information on how the State wished to proceed when prosecuting his criminal matter at the Subordinate Court.

Kwaleyela applied that Chungu’s application be dismissed with costs.

And in an affidavit in reply filed in the Lusaka High Court on March 13, 2019, Kwaleyela stated that he had read the affidavit in opposition to the Notice to Raise Preliminary issues by Chungu.

He added that the issues Chita Lodge Limited was addressing were irrelevant to the issues raised in the Notice to Raise Preliminary issues.

Kwaleyela stated that Chita Lodge employees, James Chungu and Puleng Bulaya, had been under investigations for their actions as agents of the applicant company (Chita Lodge), in their capacity as directors.

He stated that it was for the alleged criminal actions under the guise and veil of Chita Lodge that the two directors had been charged and arrested for concealing property and other offences.

Kwaleyela further stated that the charging and arresting of the directors as agents of Chita Lodge was not a result of the judicial review proceedings that had now been commenced by Chita Lodge, but arose as a result of the ongoing investigations, which were conducted by DEC prior to their arrest.

He disclosed that after thorough investigations, DEC had concluded that the properties belonging to Chimese and the property of Chita Lodge were the same.

“The second respondent (DEC) has thoroughly investigated and concluded that the properties belonging to Lt General Eric Chimese and the property of the applicant (Chita Lodge) are the same and are both on Farm No.2303/Q Lusaka,” read the affidavit.

Meanwhile, Kwaleyela stated that the preliminary issues being raised by the respondent (DEC) had merit.