THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has found five court officials and two businessmen with a case to answer in a case they are charged with trafficking and theft by servant involving 24 kilogrammes of cocaine, which was an exhibit in another matter.
Magistrate Victoria Chitulangoma ruled that the State had established a prima facie case against the accused persons in all the charges and consequently placed them on their defence.
She has, however, acquitted Bearvan Mengo, a court interpreter who was jointly-charged with the seven, after finding that the State’s evidence did not implicate him in the matter.
This is a matter in which businessmen Eric Chipango, Emmanuel Chimba and court officials: Emmanuel Chirwa, Bearvan Mengo; Mathews Mukanda; Victor Nzaila; O’Brian Muyunda and Didie Kangwa, a senior clerk of court, are charged with one count of trafficking in 80.11 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of trafficking in 1Kg of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chimba, a businessman and Chirwa, a court interpreter, are facing another count of trafficking in 1.5 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority.
Chirwa is also facing another count of trafficking in 4.5 grammes of cocaine without lawful authority and another count of theft by servant where he is alleged to have stolen 4.5 grammes of cocaine, the property of the Government of Zambia.
Meanwhile, all seven court officials are charged with one count of theft by servant where they are alleged to have stolen 24 kilogrammes of cocaine between August 4, 2017, and August 9, 2018, the property of the Government of Zambia.
The State called 16 witnesses during trial to aid its case.
However, when the matter came up for a ruling on case to answer, Tuesday, Magistrate Chitulangoma acquitted Mengo, but found the other accused persons with a case to answer.
She said the State’s evidence was not so much discredited by cross-examination, adding that there was evidence before court in the form of the narcotic drugs that were produced.
“I do not find that the evidence of the State has been so much discredited by cross-examination. There is evidence before court in the form of the narcotic drugs that were produced before this court during the prosecution’s case. There is also the public analyst’s report, which confirms that the substance that was found was cocaine,” Magistrate Chitulangoma said.
“I find that the State has established a prima facie case against the accused persons; A1, A2, A3, A5, A6, A7 and A8 in counts one, two, three and four, which are all counts of trafficking in narcotic drugs. Similarly, I find A3, with a case to answer on a charge of theft by public servant. Also, A3, A5, A6, A7 and A8 with a case to answer on another count of theft by public servant. With regard to A4, Bearvan Mengo, I find that the evidence of the State does not implicate him in this matter sufficiently for him to be found with a case to answer. I acquit him forthwith on the said charges and set him at liberty.”
The matter comes up on April 8 and 9, this year, for defence.
And speaking after being set free, Mengo thanked God, his family and friends for their support from the time he had been in custody.
He urged his colleagues, who remained in custody after being found with a case to answer, to be strong.
“I have been in custody for 18 months. Over this period, I have not lost hope. [But] God is watching. Even for my colleagues, who have just remained, I am still hopeful. They should also remain strong. Otherwise, we have endured. We have been subjected to torture, mentally. Even our families have been subjected to so much suffering, but I thank God that after 18 months, I have been acquitted at no case to answer,” said a relieved-looking Mengo.
He said he now wanted to focus on his family as they re-unite, adding that his children were not aware of his whereabouts for the period he was in custody.