A lawyer who represented Mary Lubinga during the sale of her house in Makeni, has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that there was nothing wrong with the contract of sale of the property for which Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela is accused of concealing.
The State witness further testified that Chitotela’s wife was the one who received the keys to the said property.
Meanwhile, Principal Resident Magistrate David Simusamba yesterday chased Chitotela’s supporters from his court room for murmuring after the State applied that the matter be adjourned to Wednesday next week after only two of their witnesses testified.
This is the matter in which Chitotela and three others are facing four counts of concealing and being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It is alleged in one of the counts that Chitotela, Gregory Chibanga and Brut Holdings Limited, between July 3, 2016 and October 30, last year in Lusaka, concealed lot number 148 of farm 50A situated in Makeni disguised in the names of Diris Mukange, property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
It is further alleged that the trio between the same dates concealed part of subdivision A lot 22183/M situated in Ibex Hill, Lusaka, disguised in the name of Diris Mukange, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
When the matter came up for continued trial, Wednesday, Zukani Simposya, a 48-year-old lawyer, informed the court that he represented Mary Lubinga in the transaction regarding her property in Makeni.
He said around 2016, Lubinga took him to see the property in Makeni that she was selling.
The State witness said later on, his client eventually informed him that she met a couple identified as Mr and Mrs Chitotela who seemed quite serious as prospective buyers.
Simposya said he advised Lubinga to give his phone number to the couple so that they could give it to their lawyer, adding that later on, Andrews and Partners, a law firm on the buyer’s side, confirmed having instructions to receive a draft contract of sale.
“She told me she negotiated terms and they had reached an agreement verbally and it was now time for lawyers to get involved. Naturally, the process reached where now I had to take over from her. I advised her to give Mr and Mrs Chitotela my phone number to give to their legal representative. A few days later, things progressed and communication was made. The law firm on the buyer’s side was Andrew and Partners who confirmed verbally that they had instructions to receive a draft contract of sale which I proceeded to prepare,” he said.
The State witness further testified that when he sent the draft contract of sale to Andrews and Partners law firm without inserting any buyer’s names, he received it with “Diris Mukange” inserted as the buyer.
“What I was instructed as the terms agreed to, I did not insert any names in the buyer case. I sent the draft contract to Andrew and Partners. A few days, or week later, I received my draft back with the buyer’s names inserted as Diris Mukange,” Simposya said.
“I had instructions from my client earlier on, so I called her for instructions. My client informed me that she had not met or negotiated with anyone by that name. I told her ‘there’s nothing wrong, we cannot assume the relationship that’s between the couple you negotiated with and finally who gave the final instructions, that’s not up to us’. My advise was ‘if this person has capacity, I don’t think we have business in choosing who the buyers are’. I asked for the copy of the NRC to ascertain if indeed the individual was able to buy property. My office received it and my client signed the contract.”
Simposya said later on, the payment for the house was done in full.
He further testified that Chitotela’s wife was the one who received the keys to the said property.
“I can also inform the court that at the point of handing over the keys to the property, my client instructed me to escort her to the property to hand over the keys to the buyer. We went to Makeni, reached the property and she introduced me to Mrs Chitotela, that is the person who was there to receive the keys. As they were doing the handover of the property, I didn’t speak to Mrs Chitotela, it was the first time I was seeing her. I then went back to the office,” Simposya said.
In cross examination by defence lawyers; James Matarilo, Noel Simwanza and Jonas Zimba, the witness said he doesn’t recall receiving a written correspondence from the buyer’s lawyers advising him on whom they were representing.
“I don’t really recall. It’s possible,” he said.
Further asked if he recalls receiving an email from Kapamba Kombe advising him that he was representing Diris Mukange, the witness said he didn’t recall.
But when he was shown a document with an email indicating that he corresponded with Kapamba, the witness said “now I recall because I have seen this”.
“On July 12, 2016 Kapamba Kombe wrote ‘kindly be informed that my client Diris Mukange has expressed interest in purchasing the property at purchase price K1.6(million). My response was ‘noted with thanks, we are now preparing a draft contract of sale and shall send the same copy to the title deed before close of business today,” Simposya said reading from the unmarked document given to him by the defence.
Asked whether when drafting the contract of sale he saw anything wrong as a lawyer, the witness said there was nothing wrong.
After PW19 testified, State Prosecutor Borniface Chiwala applied for an adjournment as their next witness had fallen ill.
It was at this point that Chitotela’s sympathisers murmured in protest prompting magistrate Simusamba to chase them from the courtroom, leaving only the media and a few officials.
Magistrate Simusamba then adjourned the matter to Wednesday, June 5.