TWO Chingola businesswomen have sued the Attorney General and two police officers demanding K30 million as compensation for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment for a period of 1,235 days on a charge of murder.

Peggy Meleka Kaufman and Emily Ngosa Meleka are also demanding legal expenses and fees in the sum of K170, 153.73; compensation for failure of their businesses as a result of their arrest, detention and trial, resulting in their failure to finance their children’s education and upkeep, among others.

According to the statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Peggy and Emily stated that they were wrongfully imprisoned and deprived of their liberty for about 117 days following their first arrest and about 1,118 days following their second arrest, bringing the total to about I,235 days.

They stated that on or about April, 2013, they were maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause arrested and charged by Detective Chief Inspector Wellington Mulenga, who is the third defendant in the matter, with the offence of murder of Mervin Kaufman, Peggy’s late husband, who died on November 24, 2012 from Pneumonia at Nchanga Mine Hospital in Chingola.

They added that following the said arrest, they were put in police custody and later, on remand for a total period of about 117 days.

The two stated that in August of the same year, the State entered a nolle prosequi in the matter and were accordingly discharged.

They however, stated that on July 28, 2016, they were again maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause arrested, this time around by Detective Chief Inspector Derrick Kasonka who is the second defendant matter, and charged them with the offence of murder of the late Mervin Kaufman.

“The second defendant re-arrested the plaintiffs based on precisely the same facts as during their first arrest. The defendants failed to investigate the case in circumstances amounting to a dereliction of duty in consequence of which the plaintiffs have been seriously prejudiced as to their dignity and feelings. The plaintiffs suffered distress and humiliation during their re-arrest and subsequent detention and trial from which they have not recovered, to date. The plaintiffs further suffered embarrassment, ridicule and injury to their credit, character and reputation in the eyes of well-meaning members of society in view of their arrest and re-arrest, detention and trial,” read the statement.

Peggy and Emily stated that following their second arrest, they were imprisoned and made to appear before the magistrates court and upon their committal, before the High Court in Kitwe where Kasonka and Mulenga maliciously and without reasonable cause continued to prosecute the said charge against them and caused the court to remand them to prison for a total period of 1,118 days.

They stated that there was an absence of honest belief in the accusation made against them and that there was a presence of a motive to please the deceased’s purported friends than to bring to justice any alleged perpetrators of a crime.

The due also added that the two officers failed to place them at any scene of a crime, further describing the treatment as oppressive and arbitrary prosecution in total abuse of state machinery.

“On 28th November, 2019, the High Court found that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against either of the plaintiffs, or at all and accordingly acquitted the plaintiffs of the said charge,” read the claim.