HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s lawyer Tutwa Ngulube says his client has the right to sue the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for not less than K10 million, for damaging his reputation.
And Ngulube has demanded that the commission lifts the suspension imposed on its investigating officer Chipampe Manda who told the court when he appeared as a witness, that Dr Chilufya did nothing wrong.
Speaking when he featured on Spring24 TV news live programme, Wednesday, Ngulube said as the Minister’s lead counsel, he was working round the clock to ensure that his client is not victimised again.
“They are entitled to arrest him if they have got evidence that he has done something wrong. They are entitled to come up with new allegations and he will be called upon to answer. And if they have facts, I don’t think we can stop them because they are just doing their job. They are mandated by law to arrest, and to take cases to court. But we can simply say that as Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s lead counsel, I am actually working 24/7 to make sure that our client is not victimised again on all these offences. And one other important thing is that if he wanted, Dr Chilufya can sue and claim a lot of money because his reputation was damaged, he was called a thief and the ACC were parading him, they held press conferences, they demeaned him as an internationally recognised medical doctor who is also Minister of Health and also a businessman. They can pay him no less than K10 million kwacha,” Ngulube said.
“They can pay him a lot of money because the damage they caused him is huge. At the moment, we don’t want to sue because Dr Chilufya is a very peaceful man and he is not even contemplating to sue anybody but if they begin to harass him, it will be option number one. We may have to take them in so that we can actually recover something from them.”
He said it is sad that government institutions like the ACC were relying on social media propaganda to prosecute people.
“The defence team is very happy with the outcome of the proceedings because we were anticipating that result. We know that from the beginning, Dr Chilufya was innocent and he should not even have been tried in the first place. It’s sad that now, we have government institutions relying on social media reports and social media propaganda and people can just wake up today and say ‘Tutwa Ngulube has stolen’ and the ACC stands up and starts prosecuting me. We must only take cases to court where there is evidence. And so we want to state that our client was in very high spirit, he was very strong in court [and] he never faked any illness as we have seen when politicians are in court because he knew that he was innocent. And that is why you saw even his caliber, his demeanour and everything showed that he had nothing to hide,” Ngulube said.
Ngulube described Dr Chilufya’s case as an academic exercise, saying the ACC lacked evidence from the onset.
“We can state that it was an academic exercise just from the day they did a warn and caution statement. The ACC could not clearly state what offence they were going to present in court and that is why you saw the back and forth, the dilly dallying. The ACC got five witnesses and amongst the witnesses, it was the evidence that they presented that was not equal to the charge which they gave him. The arresting officers, the investigators and everyone they called was actually saying that they did not see anything wrong. So how else would they have presented that case if the investigators themselves say that ‘when we analyse all the earnings, Dr Chilufya cannot fail to have K270,000 kwacha in five years? Dr Chilufya cannot fail as a businessman or as a minister to have US $200,000 in a period of seven years.’ And that US $200,000 was non-existent. It was never there and the witnesses themselves said ‘we never saw it, we just heard on social media.’ So, how were you expecting the courts to convict a person when there is no evidence to support the claim?” he wondered.
He said the Minister’s acquittal was never related to the Contempt of Court charge against ACC director General Rosemary Kuzwayo.
“And the contempt of court case against ACC director general Rosemary Kuzwayo was only related to one witness who was suspended. It didn’t relate to the rest of the witnesses. And I don’t think you can get acquitted because of contempt of court. It’s not possible,” he said.
And Ngulube demanded that the ACC reinstates Manda, insisting that his suspension was illegal.
“It’s illegal to continue keeping him on suspension because… the Penal Code clearly states that ‘you cannot discipline someone based on what he has said in court.’ We hope and trust that [the ACC] can lift his suspension so that he gets back to work. He was just an investigator and he told the court the whole truth. It was wrong for the acting DG to come out in that way because as far as we know, witnesses have immunities. And we are demanding the immediate reinstatement of Chipampe Manda as an investigating officer so that the matter can all die and we can forge ahead and look elsewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ngulube urged the ACC to avoid personalising matters.
“We also want to urge the ACC that before you arrest, kindly investigate. Remember how they came so strong on the allegations against Dr Chilufya? Even when he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and he was sick, they still insisted that he appears before them. Even when he was not feeling too well, they really mistreated him and made him look like he was a criminal when in actual fact there was no such a thing. So, we want to urge the ACC to emulate other government agencies. Let them look at how the police, DEC, NPA and so on deal with suspects. It is wrong for the ACC to personalise matters and deal with matters as though they are dealing with someone who has already been found guilty,” said Ngulube.