LUSAKA Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale has acquitted Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya after the prosecution said they would offer no further evidence in a matter he was charged with four counts of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) acting director general Rosemary Khuzwayo on Tuesday failed to appear before magistrate Mwale to show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be instituted against her for suspending the investigations officer who testified in the matter, as she was unwell.
However, the said summons against Khuzwayo have been cancelled following Dr Chilufya’s acquittal.
In this matter, it was alleged in the first count that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed US$200,000 which was used to purchase 6,000 shares in Samfya Marines and Tourism Services Limited from Den Daas Investment Zambia Limited, property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In the second count, it was alleged that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed K270,000 cash which was used to purchase 2,000 shares in Samfya Marines and Tourism Services Limited from Leo Jonas Ngosa Investment Limited, property suspected of being proceeds of crime.
In the third count, it was alleged that Dr Chilufya on an unknown date but between January 1, 2018 and December 30, 2019 possessed K3,000,000 which was used to purchase Lot No. 365/366 also known as Spark Guest House situated in Mansa district of Luapula Property, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In the last count, it was alleged that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed US$52,000 which was used to purchase a passenger boat also known as Transport 32 from Smart Own FZE of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
On Monday, Magistrate Mwale summoned Khuzwayo to appear before him to show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be instituted against her for suspending ACC investigations officer Chipampe Manda, who had testified in court that Dr Chilufya did not commit an offence.
However, when the matter came up for continued trial, Tuesday, ACC prosecutor Clifford Moonga informed the court that Khuzwayo was unable to appear before court as she was unwell.
He said he was informed that Khuzwayo’s blood pressure had shot up.
“This matter is scheduled for continuation of trial. We do note that there was an order by the court yesterday (Monday) to have the acting director general of ACC to appear before you so that an inquiry could be conducted on concerns which were raised by the defence. The Court’s order was duly communicated and the position is that the acting director general is unable to appear before you this morning. The reason being that she is unwell, at home. I’m reliably informed that her blood pressure shot up,” Moonga said.
In response, Ngulube said given the explanation by the State, the defence had no objection to have the matter come up when Khuzwayo was well and able to attend court.
At this point, Moonga informed the court that in relation to the main matter, he had specific instructions to offer any further evidence.
In response, Ngulube urged the magistrate to acquit Dr Chilufya.
“Given that the State has offered no evidence in this matter, we urge the court to acquit the accused person, in the interest of Justice. The accused person who has appeared before you in this matter must not go home thinking he has to appear before court the following day,” Ngulube said.
In his ruling, magistrate Mwale acquitted the accused on all four charges and further cancelled the summons against the ACC acting Director General.
“In view of the position taken by the State to offer no further evidence in this matter and considering the available evidence on record thus far, the accused person is hereby acquitted on all the four counts that he stands charged with,” said magistrate Mwale.
Asked to comment on the outcome of the case, Dr Chilufya said he had no comment.
Ngulube, on the other hand, said Justice had taken it’s course and further commended Dr Chilufya for being a disciplined client.
“The only thing I can say is that Justice has taken it’s course. And I just want to commend my client for having being a disciplined client who attended the proceedings without faking any illness and without delaying the court proceedings,” said Ngulube.
Five State witnesses had testified in this matter, with the ACC investigations officer Chipampe Manda being the first witness.
Manda testified that Dr Chilufya did not commit an offence, adding that the Health Minister had the capacity to acquire all the properties he was accused of acquiring through proceeds of crime, from his legitimate income.
But he was suspended by the ACC, saying his testimony was not representative of the commission’s position.