TRIAL has failed to start in a case in which nine people are accused of stealing US $160,000 belonging to Chishimba Kambwili as the latter, who is the complainant in the matter, was not available to testify yesterday.

Kambwili was appearing before another court where he is the accused person.

In this matter nine people, who include five former domestic workers of Kambwili, a student, a police officer, a soldier and a retired police officer, are facing charges of theft, which they all denied.

Kambwili’s five former workers; Rodney Muntanga, a 47-year-old house-boy; Esther Munyeka, a 29-year-old maid; George Bwalya, a driver, aged 49; Millan Chembe, a 35-year-old security guard and Charles Kamutengo, a 54-year-old gardener are charged with theft by servant.

On the other hand, Stacey Jane Jones, a 23 year-old student who is also a friend to Kambwili’s daughter Chanda; David Zimba, a 52-year-old retired police officer; Ian Kalunga, 38, a police officer and Jacob Sinadambwe, a 32-year-old soldier, are equally charged with theft.

In count one (theft charge), it is alleged that Stacey, Zimba, Kalunga and Sinadabwe between December 14, 2020 and December 27, 2020 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with others stole US $160,000 cash, the property of Kambwili.

In count two (theft by servant), it is alleged that Muntanga, Munyeka, Bwalya, Chembe and Kamutengo between December 14, 2020, and December 27, 2020 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together with others, being persons employed by Kambwili stole US $160,000 cash, the property of the said employer.

However, when the matter came up for commencement of trial before Magistrate Nthandose Chabala, Monday, State Prosecutor Samuel Zulu informed the Court that the State was unable to commence trial yesterday as Kambwili, who was supposed to testify, was unavailable as he was appearing before two other courts [where he is the accused person].

He indicated that the other witnesses required the Court to move to the scene.

Zulu apologised for the inconvenience and asked for a short adjournment.

But in reply, the defence objected to the application, arguing that the reason advanced for an adjournment was flimsy.

Agrippa Malando, a lawyer representing Bwalya the third accused person, argued that Kambwili was not attending any matter at the time the case before magistrate Chabala was called.

He said it was unfair that the State wanted to ride on flimsy grounds for an adjournment, adding the matter before court has had so much publicity.

“In regards to honourable (Mwaka) Mikalile, the matter for Chishimba Kambwili was adjourned in the morning around 09:05 hours. We find it unfair for the State to want to ride on flimsy grounds for an adjournment. As the Court may be aware this matter has so much publicity out there. The accused number three is innocent until proven guilty. In fact, out there (it is viewed that) ‘he stole’ and not that ‘he is alleged to have stolen’,” Malando said.

He asked the Court to warn the State that Kambwili should not be holding the Court to ransom and suggest dates whenever he wanted, to suit him.

“This is a court of law. Moreover, he is the one who complained so why is he delaying to come and testify?” he questioned.

However, Magistrate Chabala granted the State’s application to have the matter adjourned.

She adjourned the case to April 16, this year, for trial.

The case in which Kambwili is jointly-charged with his son Mwamba, Mwamona Engineering and Technical Services and two others before Magistrate Mikalile was also adjourned yesterday as the witness who is on stand had a bereavement.

The accused persons are in this matter facing 39 counts of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime, uttering a false document, among others.