The State has asked the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court to cancel Chita Lodge managing director James Chungu’s bond in a matter he is jointly charged with former ZAF Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese, on account of interfering with its witness.
In this matter, Chimese, the former Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Commander and Chungu are charged with five counts of abuse of authority and money laundering relating to properties in Ibex Hill and Lilayi.
Previously, a Zimbabwean builder testified that Chungu sent him K700 in August this year, on Airtel money and advised him to leave the country saying the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) wanted to arrest him because he had details of the house he built in Ibex Hill.
The witness also admitted that Chungu contracted him to build a double storey house in Ibex Hill.
Masaka Joe Tendai 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 goes back.
He said he told Chungu that he was merely working and there was no need for the DEC to arrest him, adding that after Chungu gave him that K700, he stopped communicating with him and used the money to pay his rentals.
The witness said as far as he was concerned, Chungu thought he had travelled back to Zimbabwe and only saw him in court the day he testified.
But when the matter came up for continued trial before magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Monday, the State raised a concern emanating from Tendai’s testimony.
Chief State Advocate at NPA Gamaliel Zimba told the court that the State found it worrisome that Chungu asked the witness to leave the country, saying if not curtailed, there was a possibility of interference with State witnesses.
He therefore asked the court to consider exercising it’s discretion by way of canceling Chungu’s bond.
“We have a concern emanating from the testimony of PW7 (Tendai), to the effect that James Chungu reached out to him, requesting that he leaves the country. The State finds that particularly worrisome and tantamount to interference. Our fear is that if that is not curtailed, there is a possibility of interference with State witnesses,” Zimba said.
“We are faced with a situation where Mr James Chungu (is on police bond), which bond he has continued to enjoy up to now, but the testimony of Tendai is worrisome to say the least in so far as the State deems as an interference. We now besiege this honourable court to consider exercising its discretion by way of cancellation.”
But the defence said they had been taken by surprise, adding that they needed fresh instructions from their client and would respond at the next hearing.
Earlier, Saviour Chapepa, a 37-year-old electrician testified that he did electrical works on a property in Ibex Hill that belonged to Chimese.
He testified that in 2012, Tendai called him to help install iron bars in an upstair house in Ibex Hill and was given four workers to assist him.
The witness told the court that when he finished installing iron bars, he spoke to (Cephas) Mudala, a supervisor and project manager at the said property, and asked if he could electrify the house and it was agreed.
“Captain Mudala was the one who was buying the materials and taking care of everything that was needed at the plot. I wrote down the requirements and he went and bought,” Chapepa said.
The witness told the court that he put pipes and did the wiring in the said upstair house, in a gym, a cottage and eight flats.
“When they finished building the (nine) flats, I started putting the pipes and did the wiring. However, Mr Mudala who was in charge left and Mr Dexter Maseka came in somewhere in 2014. Maseka was the supervisor and used to come everyday. I worked in eight flats but we were not getting along very well with Maseka. Later Maseka took me to Baobab to do piping for a wall fence. (After) I saw that we were not getting along so well, I stopped work in 2015,” Chapepa said.
The witness said he knew the owner of the property as Chimese.
“The time I was picked by Tendai, he told me it was for the ZAF commander. Even him (Chimese) he used to come at the site. Everybody used to say that ‘this is the boss, the ZAF commander’ when he comes to the site,” he said.
Asked by defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube in cross examination, if he worked for ZAF, the witness said no.
The witness was then shown a contract between Tendai and Chita Lodge and asked to read the title deed, where the witness confirmed that the certificate of title belongs to Chita Lodge.
The matter comes up on November 20 for a response from the defence on the State’s application.