Chita Lodge Limited has submitted to the Lusaka High Court that it’s neither aware of the alleged assault on four Lusaka men by President Edgar Lungu’s former Special Assistant for Political Affairs Kaizer Zulu and his two acquaintances, nor did it participate in it.
It has argued that Zulu and his two acquaintances, Mpange Kachingwe and Raffiq Rashid, were admitted into its premises as visiting guests and that if at all the assault took place, they acted in their individual capacities as guests.
In this matter, Bernard Nshindo, Sengelwayo Jere, Saul Masikoti, who are qualified surveyors and businessmen, as well as Mason Mweemba, a driver, have sued Zulu, Kachingwe and Rashid, for allegedly beating and kidnapping them on accusations that they were taking pictures of Zulu’s speed boat at Chita Lodge in Kafue.
Others sued include: the Attorney General, Chita Lodge Limited and Bella Mwanza, an employee of the said lodge.
The four, who are seeking damages for assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, among other claims, stated in their statement of claim that Zulu in particular, fired several shots in the air, while continuously assaulting them with his pistol and also pointing it to their heads with threats of killing them.
But in their defence filed in the Lusaka High Court Principal Registry, Monday, Chita Lodge Limited and its employee, Mwanza, denied being aware of the alleged assault on the plaintiffs, nor participating in it.
They stated that the plaintiffs were admitted to the premises as guests and were treated as such at all times while on the property.
Mwanza specifically denied that he was engaged in any altercation with the plaintiffs, adding that he shall put them to strict proof of the allegations.
“The fourth defendant (Mwanza) will state and show at trial that he was made aware of confrontation between guests, who had visited Chita Lodge premises on the material date, without any specifications of the nature of the misunderstanding between the guests or who the aggressor may have been,” he stated.
Mwanza, however, admitted directing guards to close the gates in order to secure the premises, staff and clients that were on the property.
He added that the said directive was neither in collusion with Zulu, Kachingwe and Rashid nor any other person.
Mwanza also denied the allegation that there was an apprehension and unlawful detention of the third and fourth plaintiffs, adding that the plaintiffs would be put to strict proof that there were gunshots fired on the premises on the material day.
“The fourth defendant will state that he is not aware and was not party to any apprehension and detention as alleged. The fourth defendant will similarly state that he did not witness or participate in any car chase and that the plaintiff’s shall be put to strict proof of the allegation that there were gunshots fired on the premises on the material day,” he stated.
“The act of closing the gate was a standard security measure that was taken to secure the property, the life and safety of the patrons and anyone on the premises at all times whenever there is such a threat to persons on the premises if at all it arises.”
Mwanza stated that at the time the directive to close the gate was issued, he did not know what was transpiring in or at the riverfront within the precincts of Chita Lodge and was, as per procedure, controlling the property he superintends over as manager.
He denied departing from the premises at Chita Lodge on the material day.
Mwanza also denied having any physical contact with any of the plaintiffs or being part of any convoy that drove the plaintiffs to Lusaka Central Police Station.
He added that he had no control of Zulu and his two acquaintances as they were not employees of the Lodge.
“The defendant further avers that if the defendants were admitted into the premises of Chita Lodge, they were admitted as visiting guests and treated as such at all times and further that if at all these incidences took place, which is denied, they acted in their individual capacities as quests. Save as herein expressly admitted, the fourth and fifth defendants denies each and every allegation in the statement of claim as if the same were set out and traversed seriatim,” read the defence.