A former caretaker has insisted in Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he did not know that Chita Lodge Limited owns the nine flats and a two-story building in the Ibex Hill area, which former ZAF Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese is accused of possessing.
Despite the State witness being shown some PACRA documents showing Chita Lodge Limited are the owners of the property, Pelekelo Muyundu insisted that he worked for Chimese.
This is the matter in which Chimese is charged with abuse of authority and money laundering, whereas his wife, Sharon Gray and Chita Lodge Limited managing director James Chungu, are charged with money laundering.
When the matter came up for continued cross-examining before Magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Monday, Muyunda told the Court that he worked at the said property from 2012 to 2017.
He added that whilst there, two Zimbabwean contractors were engaged to construct the nine flats and a two-story structure and that the overall supervisor of the works was Cephas Mudala, a ZAF officer.
Asked by defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube how he was accounting for the materials he used to receive, since he had told the Court that he could neither read nor write, Muyunda said they were just physically counting the material without recording anywhere.
And when Fube further asked, “if I put it to you that the story you have told the Court does not add up because the owner of this plot where you used to work is Chita Lodge, what would you say?”
The witness said he did not know and further admitted that he did not know anything about the title deeds of the property.
He further told the Court that from 2012 when he got employed up to 2015, general Muma used to use the gate of the property when going to the 360 Convention Centre.
After being shown some PACRA documents showing the owner of the property as Chita Lodge, Muyunda insisted that he was working for Chimese.
At this point, Fube told him that he was not responding to the question asked, which prompted the State to object, arguing that their witness was a witness of facts and that his testimony was crisp and clear.
The State wondered why the defence was cross-examining the witness on unmarked documents from PACRA and requesting him to interpret codes on an NRC when he was not competent to respond.
However, the defence said they did not ask the witness to interpret the document, but rather to read what he saw.
And in her ruling, Magistrate Chanda overruled the State’s objection, saying the questions raised by the defense were not irrelevant, but that the only irrelevant point was where the witness was asked to say the code of the district.
“I find that the questions raised by the defence were not irrelevant as objected to. The only point I would emphasize on its the part where the witness was asked to say the code of the district. Otherwise, all the cross-examination questions were relevant,” ruled Chanda.
Trial continues on August 28.