AN Investigations officer at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he felt demeaned when Amos Chanda told him “not to be stupid” when the officers went to search one of his properties.
Friday Tembo, a senior investigations officer, also told the court during cross examination that Chanda never consented to a search by the investigators at his house in Njolwe area.
This is a case in which Chanda, his wife Mable and her sister Ruth are accused of insulting ACC officers on October 27 last year.
The three are in court for allegedly using insulting language and obstructing ACC officers during a search conducted at one of Chanda’s properties.
When the matter came up before Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha for trial, Tembo, 50, testified that on the material day, he led a team of investigators to conduct searches at Chanda’s properties in Njolwe area, Mikango area, State Lodge and Woodlands.
He said at Golden Heights farm in Njolwe, the investigators found a man who introduced himself as the farm manager and they also introduced themselves and showed him their identity cards.
“I explained my mission and that we had a duly signed search warrant which empowered us to conduct a search. He indicated to us that the owner of the farm was not present,” the witness said.
Tembo, who was accompanied by other ACC officers said he asked the farm manager to phone the owner of the farm who he later came to know as Chanda and to put him on loudspeaker.
“I introduced myself and mentioned why we were at the farm and requested his presence. He said that he needed legal representation but I insisted that he needed to be present and we would give him a few minutes to get to the farm,” the witness testified.
Tembo said in response, Chanda asked whether the investigators wanted him to fly to the farm.
“I told him if you don’t come, we will proceed. He then told me ‘officer don’t be stupid’. I never responded,” he said.
Tembo said before hanging up the call, Chanda was heard saying that the investigators could be imposters.
He said the officers conducted the search and left.
Tembo told the court that in State Lodge, the officers introduced themselves to a female occupant of the property and showed her their IDs and a warrant.
“She permitted us to search the property and the assigned officers entered and I remained outside,” he said.
Tembo said he later saw journalists at the gate and heard someone echoing the word “idiots” during a commotion.
“I asked what was happening at the gate and who was uttering the word idiot, Mr Siwakwi said it was Mr Amos Chanda,” he said.
During cross examination, defence lawyer Timmy Munalula asked if there was consent from Chanda to have his property searched, but Tembo said no.
Earlier Munalula said he had cautioned his clients against commenting on cases before Court.
“We have examined almost every single statement by our client trying to establish anything referring to this honourable court and the following are the words and I quote ‘the matter is before court, I cannot comment as my lawyers are handling the same’. Perhaps, Your Worship, if there is anything beyond that which could have been in the possession of the prosecution, we have since reprimanded our client that in case or in an event that there is other information that needs to come to our disposal, it is our instruction to our client that he shall not comment on anything that is before this court,” he said.
“We, therefore, wish to proceed and uphold our commitment to the respect of this great institution. As such, Your Worship, in our finding we clearly state that at no point did he comment on anything that is before this honourable court. Under the invitation of the prosecution, we also examined the article in the Daily Mail and all we found, Your Worship, are reports of matters that the cited reporter referred to contradiction of statements of two witnesses. So we maintain our position that our client and two co-accused will not comment on anything that is before this court. I submit your worship.”