An Indian couple has taken fresh plea before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court in a matter they are accused of forging a deed of will, depriving beneficiaries of their entitlement and obtaining over $29,000 from an account at Indo Zambia Bank.

Pakizah Khan, 54, a housewife, and Mohammed Khan of 9565 Isunga Road in Kamwala, pleaded not guilty to the charges after the state amended the indictment by adding another charge.

In count one, it is alleged that on September 29, 2016, the two, with intent to deceive or defraud, forged a Deed of Will dated September 29, 2016 in the names of Harbans Singh by purporting to show that it was issued by Singh.

In count two, Khan is alleged to have on February 24, 2017, knowingly and fraudulently, uttered the deed of will dated September 29, 2016 in the names of Singh to Francis Chulu, an assistant registrar of the High Court.

In count three, it is alleged that on March 20, 2017, in Lusaka, Khan, with intend to defraud, obtained US$29,856.74 from account number 0011031001369 Indo Zambia Bank by falsely pretending that he was an administrator of the estate of Singh’s estate, when in fact not.

And in the fourth count, it is alleged that Khan between March 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017, deprived Varinder Singh and Gangandeep Singh of their entitlement, namely farm no. 10350 and L/18812/M in Chibombo, the estate of their deceased grandfather.

After the couple pleaded not guilty before chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale, Monday, State prosecutor Stuyvesant Malambo called to the stand the first witness, Varinder Singh, a 30-year-old business executive.

Varinder, who is Pakizah’s nephew, told the court that his grandfather, Singh, was in the construction business and farming.

He added that his grandfather also owned a number of properties, including two farms in Chibombo, a house in Emasdale and two flats in Fairview area.

Varinder told the court that in November 2016, his grandfather left with his brother, Gangandeep, to go and visit his son-in-law (Khan) in Kamwala South in relation to rental issues.

He said when they got there, his brother was chased away by Pakizah and she only ushered the Singh in her house.

Varinder testified that from that day, his family never saw his grandfather but added that it was later reported that he had traveled to India and died whilst there in October 2017.

He said that he made efforts to report the matter to police but it proved futile.

Varinder testified that his grandfather used to say that he would transfer his properties to his daughter Pakizah, his mother and other children.

He said after he heard that his grandfather died, he traveled to India and obtained his death certificate and came back to Zambia where he went to consult his grandfather’s lawyer on the way forward.

Varinder said the lawyer told him that Singh had left a Will with him dated May 2, 2016 where himself, his sister, brother and six others were beneficiaries.

He told the court that he was appointed administrator of his grandfather’s estates, adding that when he attempted to register the Will, he discovered that there was another Will dated September 28, 2016 which was already registered relating to the same properties.

The witness claimed that his uncle, Khan, had forged documents to appoint himself administrator of the estates, which led to the creation of the Will Deed dated September 29, 2016.

In cross examination by defence lawyer Lubinda, the witness said he would not comment on a letter shown to him by the lawyer which was written by his grandfather to the lands commission, complaining that he (Varinder) had grabbed his house and a farm from him and that the commission should reverse the transaction.

Trial continues to enable Varinder present before court his passport to ascertain whether or not he traveled to India to obtain his grandfather’s death certificate, among other documents.