LUSAKA Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale has summoned Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) acting director general Rosemary Khuzwayo to appear before him today and show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be instituted against her for suspending an investigations officer who testified in Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s case.
Magistrate Mwale directed that Khuzwayo be summoned following an application made by one of Dr Chilufya’s lawyers in the matter, Tutwa Ngulube.
Ngulube said Khuzwayo’s decision to suspend the investigation officer was not only an attempt to influence the witnesses in the proceedings, but also an attempt to intimidate truthful witnesses.
He expressed concern that in future, witnesses would fail to give truthful testimonies in court for fear of being suspended.
This is a matter in which Dr Chilufya is charged with four counts of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Earlier this month, Khuzwayo suspended ACC investigations officer Chipampe Manda who testified in court that Dr Chilufya did not commit an offence, adding that the Health Minister had the capacity to acquire all the properties he is accused of acquiring through proceeds of crime, from his legitimate income.
When the matter came up for continued trial, Monday, Ngulube brought Manda’s suspension to the attention of the court, adding that there appeared to be a serious violation of his client’s rights and an attack on the independence and credibility of the court.
He said the court had power to protect its witnesses and the integrity of the proceedings.
Ngulube said he was aware that when matters were before court, it was serious for any witness or officers of the court to be punished, disciplined or ridiculed for what they said on oath.
“We are aware that the only person who testified from ACC in this matter is Mr Manda. The position he gave to this court is that as far as his investigations were concerned, he did not believe that Dr Chilufya had committed any crime,” he said.
Ngulube added that Moono also confirmed at a press conference that ACC had decided to suspend Manda because of the testimony he gave in court.
He said section 116 of the Penal Code made it a clear case of contempt of court if any person penalises a witness for whatever they said in court.
“The gist of our application is that the decision by the acting director general of ACC to suspend the witness was aimed at influencing the witnesses in these proceedings and also to intimidate truthful witnesses. We, therefore pray that this court summons before court, the said Rosemary Nkonde Khuzwayo, the ACC spokesperson, the acting secretary and all directors to confirm this memo and whether indeed it refers to these proceedings,” Ngulube said.
Ruling on the application, magistrate Mwale said he found it prudent for him to summon Khuzwayo and inquire into her conduct, which bordered on the independence and integrity of the court.
“Having listened to the serious allegations touching on the administration of justice, it is prudent for this court to inquire into the conduct of the ACC acting director general. I therefore direct that the acting director general be summoned to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be instituted against her,” he ruled.
Earlier, three prosecution witnesses testified in the matter.
ZANACO branch manager- Acacia branch, Saniyo Gumbo testified that on May 8, 2020, an officer from ACC visited the bank to inquire about some transactions that were made on Mansa Batteries for the period January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019.
He said he checked into the system and confirmed that the account was active and further generated a statement.
The witness said according to the bank statement, on September 8, 2017, there was a cash deposit of K750,000 with a narration as payment for Sparks Guest House.
He said on October 31, 2017 there was another cash deposit of K400, 000 whose narrationwas purchase of Mansa Guest House.
Gumbo said on November 31, 2017 there was a cash deposit of K695,219 whose narration was purchase of Spark Guest House.
He said on November 3, 2017 there was a cash deposit of K89,781 for the purchase of Spark Guest House.
In cross examination by Ngulube, Gumbo said the four deposits did not amount to K3 million but to K 1,935,000.
Asked if he had any suspicion that the said transactions could be proceeds of crime, the witness said no, adding that he did not know the source of the money.
And Assinia Banda, an operations manager at ZANACO, Lusaka business centre said ACC officers approached her on June 8, 2020 and requested for account documents for one of the bank’s clients Ali Mulangu.
She said regarding the said account, on August 28, 2017, there was a credit of USD13,650 and a debit of USD 23,500 going outside the country to Smart Own FZE.
Banda said on August 30, 2017, there was a deposit of USD 20,000, another deposit of USD 9,000 and a telegraphic transfer of USD 29,000 in favour of Smart Own FZE.
Another witness, Patrick Chilekwa, an assistant inspector of companies in the compliance and awareness unit at PACRA, testified that sometime in April 2020, he received officers from ACC who wanted information regarding the shareholding in Samfya Marines and Tourism Services Limited.
He said he availed the officers documents and that on the first form, a company called Top Tech Enterprises Limited transferred 2,000 ordinary shares to Leo Jonas Ngosa Investment Limited.
Chilekwa said on another form, Den Daas Investment Zambia transferred 6,000 shares to Dr Chilufya.
In cross examination, the witness confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the transfer of shares.
Trial continues today.