THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has acquitted four court officials who were charged with trafficking and theft by servant involving 24 kilogrammes of cocaine which was an exhibit in another case.
Magistrate Victoria Chitulangoma has however, convicted and sentenced court interpreter Emmanuel Chirwa and businessmen; Eric Chipango and Emmanuel Chimba to two years, three months imprisonment with hard labour for trafficking in 80.11grammes of cocaine.
The sentence which is from the date of their arrest in September 2018, is however, suspended on condition that they do not engage in similar offences.
In this matter, businessmen; Chipango and Chimba as well as court officials; Chirwa, Mathews Mukanda, Victor Nzaila, Obrian Muyanda, and Didie Kangwa were charged with one count of trafficking in 80.11 grams of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of trafficking in 1 Kg of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chimba and Chirwa were facing another count of trafficking in 1.5 grams of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chirwa was also facing another count of trafficking in 4.5 grams of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of theft by servant where he was alleged to have stolen 4.5 grams of cocaine.
Meanwhile, all the court officials were charged with one count of theft by servant where they were alleged to have stolen 24 kilograms of cocaine between August 4, 2017 and August 9, 2018, the property of government.
The accused denied the charges and the State called 15 witnesses to testify in the matter.
In March this year, Magistrate Chitulangoma found the five court officials and two businessmen with a case to answer in the matter but acquitted Bearvan Mengo, a court interpreter who was jointly charged with the seven, after finding that the State’s evidence did not implicate him.
And passing judgement, Friday, Magistrate Chitulangoma said the State failed to conduct thorough investigations to prove that the accused trafficked or stole the 24 kilograms of cocaine.
She added that the State did not prove who exactly among the accused stole the said drugs and how the other accused were directly or indirectly involved.
Magistrate Chitulangoma further said the State did not weigh the said drug to show how it reduced in quantity.
She, therefore, acquitted Mukanda, Nzaila, Muyunda, and Kangwa, saying the evidence never confirmed that the accused persons tempered with the drugs.
“Generally, this court has observed that there was no thorough investigation of some of the charges,” magistrate Chitulangoma said.
She however, convicted Chipango, Chimba and Chirwa of trafficking in 80.11 grammes of cocaine and further convicted Chimba and Chirwa in respect of counts two and five.
Magistrate Chitulangoma said the State and records proved that Chipango and Chimba were found in possession of 80.1 grams of cocaine and that Chirwa was also found in possession of an exhibit bag which had been the subject of a drug trafficking case.
She sentenced the three to two years, three months imprisonment suspended from the date of their arrest.
The court adjourned the matter to June 19, for determination of what to do with the various exhibits in the matter which includes cars and money.