A Zambia Air Force (ZAF) officer has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he supervised construction works for a two-storey building and a gym in Ibex Hill allegedly belonging to former ZAF Commander, Lieutenant General Eric Chimese.
But defense lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube has accused the state witness of fabricating his testimony to cover up works he was doing at 360 Convention Centre on behalf of the incumbent ZAF commander David Muma.
Meanwhile, the State has amendment the indictment and entered a nolle prosequi in two of the charges in which Chimese was charged with abuse of authority.
In this matter Chimese, 50, is jointly charged with his wife Sharon Gray Chimese, 45 and Chita Lodge Limited managing director James Chungu.
Chimese is charged with abuse of authority and money laundering, whereas his wife and Chungu are only charged with money laundering.
When the matter came up for trial before magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Monday, Chief State Advocate at NPA Gamaliel Zimba, informed the court that the State had decided to drop two charges against Chimese by way of a nolle prosequi.
He then called the first witness, Major Caphus Mudala, a ZAF officer, to the stand.
Maj Mudala, also a squadron pilot, told the court that in February this year, DEC anti-money laundering investigations unit approached him to inquire on the role he played on a property in Ibex Hill.
“They asked me to give a statement on how I was involved at that property on First Street opposite ZAF Twinpalm,” he said.
Maj Mudala testified that in 2013, he was assigned to supervise works at the said property by Chimese.
He said he supervised the casual workers that were engaged in the construction works of a two-storey building, gym and servants quarter and also ensured that there was adequate material.
“I would ensure that I outsource manpower that was required for the construction of a double storey house, a gym and a servants quarter,” he said.
Maj Mudala further told the court that his role was to ensure that the works were ongoing and giving feedback to the general.
He said by December 2014, the double storey was complete but some interior works such as tiling, painting and fitting of bathtubs, were still on.
Maj Mudala added that he mostly communicated with Chimese on payment of workers and purchase of materials.
“I would pay the workers when I get the money from General Chimese. I would also get funds for the materials from the general,” he said.
Maj Mudala claimed that the said property belonged to Chimese because he was the one giving him instructions regarding the works on the property.
He added that as at December 2014, he had worked for Chimese at the property for two years before he went for a ZAF flying course in South Africa and handed over the works to Major Maseka.
Asked in cross examination if there were bricklayers, plumbers or electricians from ZAF on site, the witness replied in the negative.
He, however, admitted that he had no written orders or contract of engagement to show that Chimese had engaged him to supervise the said works.
Maj Mudala further admitted that around December 2014, he was working for Major General David Muma.
He denied supervising General Muma’s works at a convention center known as 360, on TwinPalm Road.
When defence lawyer, KBF, put it to him that the said property belonged to Chita Lodge, the witness denied saying he never had any instructions from Chita Lodge.
Maj Mudala admitted that he didn’t see any title deed for the plot in Chimese’s names.
At one point during cross examination, KBF accused the State witness of making up his testimony to cover up what he was doing at the 360 Convention Center, adding that his assignment never existed.
He put it to the witness that because the said plot was next to the convention center, Maj Mudala was able to see what was happening and that was how he came to know of the happenings at the said plot.
“You do know that General Muma has a convention center opposite ZAF called 360 and it is next to this plot, Chita lodge plot, I’m suggesting to you that your general, Muma, under whom you were operating in 2013, was building and that’s how you came to know about the Chita Lodge, nothing more. You had no responsibility at the Chita Lodge plot. This assignment you are talking about never existed. This is why you haven’t supplied any details to the court,” KBF said.
But the witness insisted that his assignment indeed existed, but maintained that during the time he worked at Chimese’s property, there were no other ZAF employees.
In count one, it is alleged that between June 2013 and June 2018 in Lusaka, Chimese being a public officer at the time, namely ZAF commander, engaged employees of ZAF to do works on his private property situated on plot number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, an arbitrary act which was prejudicial to the interests of the government of Zambia.
In the second count, it is alleged that Chimese on the same dates in Chilanga district, engaged ZAF employees to do works on his private property situated on Farm number 4301/31 in Eureka Area.
In another count, it is alleged that Chimese and Chungu on dates unknown but between January 2012 and February 2019 in Lusaka, concealed and disguised the rights to ownership of nine flats, a single storey building, one Guest Wing and one semi detached cottage situated on Farm number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, knowing or having reason to believe that the said property were proceeds of crime.
It is also alleged that Chimese on the same dates in Lusaka, possessed nine flats, one single storey building, one guest wing and one semi detached cottage situated on the said farm, knowing that the said properties were proceeds of crime.
And in the last count, it is alleged that between January 2012 and February 2019, in Chilanga district, Chimese and his wife Sharon, possessed two houses on Farm number 4301 in Eureka Area, knowing that the said properties were processed of crime.
The trio had denied the charges and are being represented by Kelvin Bwalya Fube, Mark Haimbe and Kebby Wishimanga.