A FORMER security guard at Pre-Secure Security Company has testified that he guarded some properties in Ibex Hill allegedly belonging to former Zambia Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese for a year.
The State witness further testified that on a certain day, Chita Lodge director James Chungu told him to lock up all the houses as he was repossessing them from Chimese for failure to pay for them.
This is a matter in which Chimese and Chita Lodge director James Chungu are charged with abuse of authority of office and money laundering relating to properties in Ibex Hill and Lilayi area in Lusaka.
In count one, it is alleged that between June 2013 and June 2018 in Lusaka, Chimese being a public officer at the time, namely ZAF commander, engaged employees of ZAF to do works on his private property situated on plot number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, an arbitrary act which was prejudicial to the interests of the government of Zambia.
In the second count, it is alleged that Chimese on the same dates in Chilanga district, engaged ZAF employees to do works on his private property situated on Farm number 4301/31 in Eureka Area.
In another count, it is alleged that Chimese and Chungu on dates unknown but between January 2012 and February 2019 in Lusaka, concealed and disguised the rights to ownership of nine flats, a single storey building, one Guest Wing and one semi detached cottage situated on Farm number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, knowing or having reason to believe that the said property were proceeds of crime.
It is also alleged that Chimese on the same dates in Lusaka, possessed nine flats, one single storey building, one guest wing and one semi detached cottage situated on the said farm, knowing that the said properties were proceeds of crime.
When the matter came up for continued trial before Lusaka Magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Monday, Stephen Mbewe, a 27-year-old casual worker of Mtendere East, told the court that he guarded premises allegedly belonging to Chimese for a year when he worked as a security guard for Pre-Secure Security Company.
Mbewe testified that he was employed at the said company on July 21, 2017, adding that in the evening of the same day, his supervisor took him to Chimese’s alleged properties in Ibex Hill and that when they reached, he was informed that he would be working at the property every Friday.
He said a man by the name of Innocent received him.
Mbewe told the court that the said Innocent also showed him all the properties on the premises, which included 10 houses.
“When I entered, the supervisor went back. While inside, I asked Innocent who the owner of the place was and he told me that it belonged to General Chimese. He told me that he was a caretaker,” Mbewe said.
“In the houses, there were beds, fridges, sofas and a genset. After checking, I went to the guard room. I worked up to morning. I then knocked off and went home. The following Friday, I went back and found some people working,” he said.
Mbewe further testified that the next Friday when he went back to work, he was informed that a vehicle belonging to ZAF was going to deliver some household items like beds, mattresses and fridges.
“When that vehicle came, we opened the gate and the vehicle entered inside. I got an OB book to write in, according to protocol. Innocent advised me not to write but only write once the items are put in the houses. The items were offloaded and the vehicle left. The said vehicle which brought the items was green in colour. It was a truck,” he said.
Mbewe said he saw the said vehicle about four times while he worked there.
The State witness also testified that Chimese would sometimes visit the properties to check on the works.
As he continued with his testimony, Mbewe told the court that on July 27, 2018, he reported for work but only found Innocent.
He said in the evening of that day, a white vehicle went to the property, adding that one of the people in the vehicle identified himself as Chungu from ZAF.
Mbewe claimed that Chungu, who is the second accused, asked him to lock all the houses as he was repossessing the properties after Chimese allegedly failed to finish paying for them.
“He asked me to lock all the houses and put the keys in one place. He said I shouldn’t allow anyone to enter the premises. He left the phone number to give those people who wanted to enter the premises. He also told me that he had sold the place to Chimese but he didn’t finish paying the money so he had gotten the place. Even if Chimese comes, I shouldn’t allow him too but ask him (Chimese) to call Chungu,” the witness said.
“However, no one came until morning. I started waiting for Mr Chungu who came around 09:00 hours. I took the keys and handed them over to him and I knocked off, going home.”
Mbewe said he didn’t know what happened after that as Pre-secure company told him not to work at the said properties anymore after the one who used to work there before reported back.
Cross examined by defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube, the witness admitted that it was not normal for a security guard to get instructions from a stranger.
Mbewe, however, insisted that Chungu was the one who instructed him to lock the houses and not allow anyone on the premises.
This was after the defence put it to him that Chungu never went to the premises nor did he give Mbewe the said instructions.
Asked to clarify to the court on who the owner of the properties was, given his testimony that Chungu instructed him to lock the houses, Mbewe insisted that Chimese was the owner of the property.
“I was told it was Chimese,” he said.
Asked for the name of the driver of the alleged ZAF vehicle which delivered materials to the property, Mbewe said he didn’t know the name nor the registration number of the vehicle.
Another witness, Mpotwa Mukwasa, a civil servant under Ministry of Lands, testified that he did a drawing of a proposed subdivision of Farm number 2303/Q.
Mukwasa, a Cartographer, added that the property was on title under Chita Lodge.
“I was approached by my client who happened to be a private land surveyor about a job that required my services. He gave me the property number and of course a copy of the survey data. The property was on title under Chita Lodge. After he approached me I did a drawing of a proposed subdivision for him of Farm number 2303/Q. I then gave him the final copy,” said Mukwasa.