A tile fitter at the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) has testified that he fitted tiles at the nine flats and a storey building in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill area that former ZAF Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese is accused of possessing, shortly before being employed as a civilian in the air force.
Katema Chulu, 45, however added that during the time he worked at the property, he didn’t know who the owner was, as he was employed and was being paid by some Zimbabweans who were carrying out the construction works.
This is a matter in which Chimese, his wife Sharon and Chita Lodge Limited managing director James Chungu, are charged with five counts of abuse of authority and money laundering in relation to the properties in Ibex Hill and Lilayi.
When the matter came up for continued trial before magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Wednesday, Chulu of Chipata Compound told the court that he had worked with ZAF as a tile fitter since 2015.
Chulu testified that he started doing some piece works in 2013 in Ibex Hill with his friend Jack Mwape.
“We started with the up-stair [house] then went downstairs. I was just fitting tiles on the verandas. I worked on the up-stair building for two weeks. The said house is in Ibex Hill, near Twinpalm,” he said.
Chulu further testified that after finishing works on the up-stair house, they proceeded to work on the gym which was within the same yard.
He said afterwards, the duo went to the nine flats which were in the next yard and also fitted tiles in two flats before they were joined by other workers who were brought by Maseka.
“After we finished with the gym, that’s when we went to the flats. We fitted in two flats and from there that’s when other people were brought to help with the work. They were brought in 2014. They were mixed, Zambians and Zimbabweans,” Chulu said.
Asked what role Maseka played, the witness said he was their supervisor.
He told the court that in 2015, he and Mwape were employed in ZAF Chamba Valley, upon seeing how well they were performing.
Chulu said after they were employed, they moved from Ibex Hill to Baobab to do similar works, and that he only worked there for a week.
He told the court that he and Mwape worked at the property in Baobob while they were already employed in the airforce but added that it was a private engagement which they used to undertake when they were off duty.
Chulu, however, said he did not know the owner of both properties.
In cross examination by defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube, Chulu said he started working at the Ibex Hill property in 2013 after his friend, Mwape, was engaged by some Zimbabweans who were constructing at the said property.
Asked if he was an employee of ZAF between 2013 and 2014 when he worked at the property in Ibex Hill, the witness responded in the negative.
Chulu explained that when carrying out the said piece works, he was being paid by the Zimbabweans.
Another witness, ZAF colonel Charles Chipasha testified that Chulu and Mwape were employed by ZAF in February 2015 as a builder and bricklayer, respectively.
“Sometime last year in November or December, I interacted with officers from DEC who wanted to find out the employment status of colonel Dexter Maseka, major Caphus Mudala, civilian Jack Mwape, Katema Chulu and Mwesha Martin. I pulled out their personal files and demonstrated to the officers from DEC that indeed they were ZAF employees,” said Chipasha.
Asked in cross examination, if it was a problem for the workers to carry out private jobs for a senior officer outside working hours, the witness said, “if they are working outside the working hours for ZAF, there is no problem.”
Trial continues today.