A Zimbabwean builder has testified before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that Chita Lodge managing director James Chungu sent him K700 last month, via Airtel Money, and advised him to leave Zambia, saying the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) wanted to arrest him.
The witness also admitted that Chungu contracted him to build a double-storey house in Ibex Hill.
Masaka Joe Tendai, 39, was testifying in a matter in which former Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese, his wife Sharon Gray and Chungu are charged with five counts of abuse of authority and money laundering relating to properties in Ibex Hill and Lilayi.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has entered a nolle prosqui in respect of Chimese’s wife, Sharon.
When the matter came up for continued trial before Magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Tuesday, Tendai narrated how Chungu last month sent him a K700 via Airtel Money and advised him to leave the country.
The witness testified that Chungu wrote a message telling him that his friends had gone back to Zimbabwe and that he was going to send him a K700 so that he also travels back to the said country.
He told the Court that when he asked Chungu why he was to leave the country, the latter told him that DEC wanted to arrest him because he had details of the house he built in Ibex Hill.
Tendai said he told Chungu that he was merely working and there was no need for the DEC to arrest him.
He said after Chungu gave him that K700, he stopped communicating with him, adding that as far as he was concerned, Chungu thought he had travelled back to Zimbabwe.
Tendai said he used the money to pay his rentals and Chungu only saw him in court on Tuesday.
In his testimony, Tendai narrated how he met Chungu at his office at Chita Lodge in Lusaka’s Olympia area where he told him that he was looking for a job.
He said Chungu then told him that he was actually looking for a builder and took him to a site in Ibex Hill where the house was to be built.
Tendai said Chungu told him that the plan for the house was not ready and told him to start building a guard house.
He said at the time he completed the construction of the guard house, Chungu informed him that the plan was ready and asked him to accompany him to Chita Lodge to collect it.
Tendai said Chungu asked him if he would manage to build a two-storey building and he said he could, but he would need some assistance.
Tendai said he went to Mtendere East and engaged about 12 men to work with him.
Meanwhile, Tendai tendered a floor plan for the double-storey house he built to the court as part of his evidence.
After identifying the plan of the house he was given, the witness told the Court that he knew it as it appeared to have the names of Chimese, but it was erased and replaced with Chungu.
Tendai said he did not know the owner of the nine flats as he was not the one who built them.
Asked in cross-examination, if he knew Chimese, Tendai said he knew him as ZAF commander and added that Chimese would go to the site and used to talk to (Cephas) Mudala (who was a supervisor of the works at the said property).
Asked if it wasn’t strange that in his testimony, he did not mention Chimese, the witness told the Court that he wanted to mention Chimese on the floor plan.
Further asked if it was not true that he was contracted to build the double-storey house by Chungu, the witness said, yes, and further agreed that it was Chungu who took him to the site.
The matter comes up on October 10 for continued trial.