Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says the suspected owner of the 51 mysterious houses in Chalala tried all means to conceal his identity.
And Kampyongo says the matter in which three people, among them a couple of civil servants and a Copperbelt based lawyer who are suspected to be the owners of the houses, has been referred to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution for further action.
Speaking when he rendered a ministerial statement on the investigations into the matter in Parliament, Tuesday, Kampyongo said two civil servants and a Copperbelt based lawyer had been warned and cautioned as suspects.
“There are so many facets to this matter [and] one of them is concealing of property because my dear colleagues there knows very well the procedures of how someone should acquire a plot, how someone should follow the processes of going to the local authorities, getting authority genuinely. If the sources of funds are genuine, you don’t need to conceal. Here, you can see that someone had intention to conceal the truth and the identity either by using the law firms or the agents. Now it had to take the investigative wings to go to the other sources to try and put the pieces together. In short, it was more to do with concealment and you could tell that the suspect had intention not to be sincere in their transactions. And that was a source of concern to our investigative wings. We talk about money laundering. Those that launder money don’t want to show where the money could have come from,” Kampyongo said.
“Investigations revealed that the suspect had bought 22 plots from a real estate agent who had been selling demarcated land to interested individuals on behalf of a client in whose name the parent title was registered at the deeds registry at the Ministry of Lands. Investigations also revealed that the Ministry of Finance officer had paid for the said plots. They were not registered in his name. On the contrary, plots are registered in the name of a Copperbelt based lawyer. This is according to the records held by the real estate agency that sold the plots.”
Kampyongo said no records of approval for the said houses were found at the Lusaka City Council (LCC).
“Investigations also established that the suspects had built a total number of 51 flats between 2012 and 2017, and 30 of the flats have been completed and are on rent. The rest of the flats (21) were at 80 per cent completion and were therefore not occupied. In terms of approval from the Lusaka City Council, no records were found. However, there were applications traced for water and power made in the names of the lawyer and the wife of the suspect. It should be noted that the ACC had interviewed a number of individuals connected to the flats but none of them claimed ownership of the properties in question,” he said.
And Kampyongo said a docket in the matter has been opened, adding that the matter had been referred to the office of the DPP for guidance.
“The joint investigations team comprising of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), and the Zambia Police Service conducted investigations and subsequently issued a warn and caution statement for concealment of properties believed to believed to be proceeds of crime from the suspects. The suspects in this matter are two civil servants, actually a couple and a lawyer based on the Copperbelt. With the identification of the suspected owners of the 51 flats, the investigations have been concluded. To that end, a docket has since been opened and sent to the Director of Public Prosecution for further actions and guidance,” the minister said.
But Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo stood on a point of order insisting that the minister reveals the names of the three suspects.
“Mr Speaker, this matter is not only a very sensitive matter that we are dealing with this afternoon. The immediate past question from the MP for Serenje sought to find out the identity of these three suspects. Mr Speaker, there is a principle of “innocent until one is proven guilty.” For example, I was a murder suspect [and] everybody knew that Mr Gary Nkombo has been arrested for having been accused of murdering another person. I am currently on a nolle prosequi. What could be so special to withhold the identity of an individual who is innocent until proven guilty by the competent court of jurisdiction? Is the minister in order therefore to leave this house in suspense so that we continue thinking that the owners of these houses are members of the Patriotic Front as it has been put as an innuendo from the time this matter came to light? I seek your ruling sir,” Nkombo said.
In ruling, Dr Matibini compelled Kampyongo to disclose the names saying that the contention had always been around the ownership.
“Honourable members, my ruling [is that] the sense and controversy surrounding this matter has been around the identity of who the owners of these houses are and the identity of the owners has for a long time dodged the nation. And as I see it, now that the minister has volunteered to render a ministerial statement, by extension, unless he doesn’t have the information, he should be ready to disclose. The gist of the matter has been the identity but if the minister is not aware, he will advise the chair accordingly,” Dr Matibini ruled.
Then Kampyongo disclosed that Charles Loyana and his wife Susan Sinkala who are both civil servants and another Copperbelt based lawyer named Chalie Chitala were the suspects.
“Mr Speaker with your guidance, as I respond to other follow up questions, I will be able to give the names as directed by you. Mr Speaker, our desire was that we wanted to put undue pressure on the DPP chambers but with your directives, I will start by mentioning the three suspects. The first suspect is a Mr Charles Loyana, a senior accountant at the Ministry of Finance, his wife Susan Sinkala, and a Mr Chalie Chitala, a lawyer by profession. I want to state here that I have received the estimated value of the properties. The estimated value at the market now is about K37 million,” Kampyongo revealed.