THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has heard that the woman who sold her Makeni house to infrastructure minister Ronald Chitotela questioned why the contract of sale had a different name but her lawyer told her that was not an issue as long as the person had capacity to pay.
In this case, Chitotela, who is also Pambashe PF member of parliament, is jointly charged with Gregory Chibanga, Brut Holdings Limited operations manager Mwenya Chisala and Diris Mukange.
Allegations in the first and second counts are that Chitotela, Chibanga and Brut Holding Limited between July 1, 2016 and October 30, 2018, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together concealed lot number 148 of farm 50A situated in Makeni disguised in the names of Mukange and the remaining extent of subdivision A of lot 22183 /M situated in Ibex Hill, Lusaka which was also disguised in the name of Mukange.
The two properties are reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
The third and fourth counts allege that during the same period, Mukange possessed the two properties which were suspected of being proceeds of crime.
Testifying in evidence-in-chief before principal resident magistrate David Simusamba, Mary Lubinga, 54 an assistant director for human resources administration at the Ministry of Local Government and a resident of Chilenje South who was led by prosecutor Martin Mayembe, told the court that she sold her house that was situated in Makeni to Chitotela at K1.6 million but on the contract of sale, there was Mukange’s names.
She told the court that when she queried why the contract of sale had a different name, her lawyer told her that that was not an issue as long as the person had capacity to pay.
Lubinga said the initial price of the house was K2.5 million but Chitotela and his wife negotiated and got it at K1.6 million.
She said she was currently staying in Chilenje South and that prior to her shifting to Chilenje South in December 2016, she was staying at plot 148/50A in Makeni South.
Lubinga said at the beginning of 2015, she put the property up for sale and advertised it with a number of estate agents and that around August 2016, she was approached by one of the agents who told her that there was a client who was interested in viewing the house.
She said the agent came with a client who was introduced to her as Mrs Chitotela.
Lubinga said after viewing the house, Mrs Chitotela expressed interest in purchasing the house and asked her to reconsider the price which was at K2.5 million.
She said Mrs Chitotela told her that she wished to discuss the matter with her husband, Chitotela, so that he could also view the house before making a final decision.
Lubinga said Mrs Chitotela called her after sometime and informed her that she was going to view the house with her husband and they told her they would make contact with her on the final decision.
And the court heard that after several days, Chitotela phoned Lubinga and asked her to go to his office at Government Complex where an amount of K1.6 million was agreed upon and the matter was then referred to the lawyers for payments.
“We had a discussion on the price of the property and I was asked to reconsider on bringing the price down to around K1.6 million. I indicated that I will consider it if the property transfer tax could be paid. He agreed on that and he proceeded to ask for my bank details. I indicated that on my part the transaction was to be handled by my lawyer. He indicated that he was going to give instructions to his lawyer to proceed with the transaction,” Lubinga said.
She said when she later went to her lawyer’s office to sign a contract of sale, she discovered that the purchaser’s name on the contract was Diris Mukange and not the actual Chitotela whom she had negotiated with.
“I raised the issue with my lawyer. I indicated to him that that was not the name that I was expecting on the contract. I asked him if it could present the problem for me. The advice I was given was that as long as the person had the capacity to pay, it should not be a problem. I then signed a contract,” she said.
Lubinga said the keys to the house were taken into possession by Mrs Chitotela in the presence of her lawyer.
She said she knew nothing about Mukange and she only discussed the sale of her property with Mr and Mrs Chitotela.
And when cross examined by Chitotela’s lawyers who are led by Noel Simwanza, Lubinga said she was not aware that during the period she had met the minister at his office, he was out on campaigns for the 2016 general elections.
She said the minister was in Lusaka.
Lubinga however, admitted that the sale of the property was between her and the said Diris Mukange because that was what the contract of sale states.
Lubinga said the transaction of the house happened between August and December 2016.
Asked that if they talked about a transaction that happened earlier than August 2016, then they would not be talking about the transaction that give rise to the case in court, Lubinga answered in the negative.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has indicated that they have lined up three witnesses today.
Mayembe said this was to make up for the lost time after they failed to avail a witness yesterday afternoon because the witness who was supposed to testify fell sick.
Mayemba sought an adjournment to today which the court granted.
Hearing continues today.