THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has heard how a court official confessed to stealing K200,000 cash which was an exhibit and came into his possession by virtue of his employment.
In this matter, judiciary senior clerk of court Didie Kangwa is alleged to have stolen the said money which is said to have been an exhibit in another matter where former BancABC employer and murder convict, Precious Longwe, was charged with theft.
Kangwa stands charged with one count of theft by public servant.
It is alleged that between November 21, 2017, and April 9, 2018, in Lusaka, Kangwa being a person employed in the public service namely: Judiciary as a senior clerk of the court, stole K200,000 cash, which came into his possession by virtue of his employment, the property of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.
When the matter came up for trial last week before magistrate Kate Sakwanda, deputy head of security at the judiciary headquarters in charge of investigations, Geoffrey Mukonka, testified that Judge Lameck Mwale, who was the chief resident magistrate at the time, called him to his office where he went in the company of Anthony Kabanda, the head of security.
Mukonka testified that Judge Mwale informed him that there was a matter he needed to investigate involving the missing K200,000 exhibit which was in the custody of Kangwa, who was at the time the senior clerk of court and an exhibit officer.
“I immediately instituted investigations and among the list of activities I conducted was to request for an exhibit register book where all entries pertaining money were recorded therein,” he testified.
Mukonka stated that when he examined the register, he learnt that there was an entry pertaining to the K200,000 which was received by Kangwa.
He added that when he interviewed Charity Nambeye, who had taken over from Kangwa, it was discovered that at the time Nambeye took over, the K200,000 was not part of the inventory and that the money was not in the safe.
Mukonka said he then asked for Kangwa’s whereabouts and he was told that he was in detention in connection with another matter.
“I sought permission from the chief resident magistrate so that I can interview Kangwa at remand prison and I was granted,” he said.
Mukonka said in the company of magistrate Mwale, Kabanda, and two others, they went to meet Kangwa but on arrival at the Lusaka remand prison, Kangwa requested to meet magistrate Mwale in confidence.
He said after magistrate Mwale met Kangwa, the magistrate later asked that all the others should accompany him to meet the accused again.
“I was then given a document which appeared to be a confession letter. In the letter, the accused indicated that he received the money in question as an exhibit in another case. The letter showed that he was committed to paying back the money and that he had made an arrangement with his wife to bring the money which he kept at his home,” he said
Mukonka testified that the same day in the afternoon, Kangwa’s wife took K55,000 as the first batch to court, and was later informed that more money was received.
“I was later told that there were other monies that were received apart from the K55, 000,” he said.
In cross examination, the defence asked Mukonka if he was aware that K33,000 was supposed to be recovered from Kangwa’s terminal benefits, to which he responded in the affirmative.
The matter was adjourned to September 22, this year.
The said K200,000 was stolen by Longwe from Africa Bank Corporation now Atlas Mara on May 24, 2016 before she shot dead her husband Akakanda Litebele.
Police officers had discovered the money which comprised of four bundles of hundred kwacha notes with tags of Bank ABC at Longwe’s residence whilst investigating her murder case on May 25, 2016.
The said money was in a brown suitcase which was in her closet.
Longwe, who was sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of her husband by the Lusaka High Court on April 13, 2017, was also slapped with a four-year jail term by Lusaka magistrate Nthandose Chabala on October 20 for theft.
Magistrate Chabala had ordered that the K200,000 be given back to the bank but when a bank official went to collect it from Kangwa’s custody, it was established that it had gone missing.
Kangwa is among the six court officials and two business executives who were also charged with trafficking in 24 kilogrammes of cocaine and theft of the said drugs which was an exhibit in another matter involving Sydney Mwansa and two others.