A DRUG Enforcement Commission (DEC) officer has testified that the 24 suspected PF supporters who were arrested in Lusaka’s Chawama Compound for allegedly being in possession of offensive weapons and trafficking in marijuana, were detained in different police stations because they were unruly.

Nolianga Nawa, an assistant investigations officer at DEC, testified that the commission on December 23, 2020, received information that 24 suspects were in custody after allegedly being found with offensive weapons and suspected psychotropic substances, adding that the said psychotropic substances were confirmed to be cannabis weighing 316.1 grams.

In this matter, Joshua Chitwaka and 23 other accused persons, who include; pupils, businessmen, drivers and some unemployed, are charged with one count of possession of offensive weapons and another count of trafficking in psychotropic substances.

The 24 men aged between 14 years and 48 years are alleged to have on December 22, 2020 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together, possessed offensive weapons namely, four machetes, one golf stick, one axe and six bars without lawful authority or excuse.

The accused persons are also alleged to have on the same date trafficked in psychotropic substances namely, 316.1 grams of marijuana, a herbal product of cannabis sativa.

They had however, pleaded not guilty to the offences.

When the matter came up for commencement of trial before Magistrate Betty Malupenga, Monday,
Nawa told the court that on December 23, 2020, whilst she was on duty, information was received to their office that there were 24 unknown male persons in custody at Ibex police station.

She said the information further indicated the 24 were found with offensive weapons and suspected psychotropic substances in Chawama Compound.

“Acting upon the information, a team of DEC officers was constituted, and I was part of the team. The team proceeded to Ibex police station where the 24 suspects, one of them I came to know as Joshua Chitwakwa and 23 others were handed over to DEC together with suspected drugs concealed in a whitish Pick n Pay plastic bag,” Nawa said.

She said the 24 suspects were detained in different police posts because they were unruly so they had to separate them.

Nawa further told the court that in the afternoon of December 23, 2020, the drugs were taken to UTH laboratory for analysis where they were confirmed to be cannabis with a total weight of 316.1 grams.

“On December 24, 2020, a warn and caution statement was recorded to each one of them in the language they all understood better. And they all gave a free and voluntary replies denying the charge. I therefore made up my mind over the charge and arrested them for trafficking in psychotropic substances,” she said.

In cross examination, defence lawyer Aggripa Malando asked the witness if she found any of the 24 accused persons with the cannabis.

In response, Nawa said no.

The matter comes up on February 23, this year, for continued trial.