AN ELECTRICIAN at Zambia Air Force has testified that in 2017, former ZAF Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese assigned him to install electrical fittings at his premises in Ibex Hill where he was constructing nine flats. Martin Chanda told the court that Lt Gen Chimese did not pay him for the service. In this matter, Lt Gen Chimese is accused of abuse of authority and money laundering, while his wife Sharon and Chita Lodge Limited managing director James Chungu are facing one count of money laundering. Chanda said that this year, the Drug Enforcement Commission approached him to find out what he was currently doing at ZAF and what work he had done in Ibex Hill.
He said he was approached by former ZAF director of works, Eric Bwalya, asking him to do some works for Lt Gen Chimese.
“I was told to go and see the director of works and my boss at his office. We had some discussions and he wanted me to do some fittings. I later went to Ibex Hill to inspect the electrical materials that would be fitted to the property, which included nine houses and a three bedroom house,” Chanda told court.
He said the Lt Gen Chimese told him to install the fittings house by house and commenced the installations between 2017 and complete the assignment last year. Chanda said he was not paid when he completed the fittings as there were a number of construction works going on at the premises.
The witness further said that he does not know if the property in Ibex belongs to Lt Gen Chimese. Chanda could not be cross-examined as magistrate Chanda directed the State to move the court to the property in Ibex Hill to be viewed today. Earlier, magistrate Chanda refused to grant an adjournment sought by the defence as the lead counsels for the accused was not present. The court ordered that the matter proceeds to trial as the lawyers proposed trial dates according to their diaries and neither did they file an affidavit nor give a sufficient reason for their absence. The matter was later stood down and when it was recalled, Chief State Advocate Gamaliel Zimba informed the court that the accused persons had stepped outside the court premises.
In response, magistrate Chanda threatened to issue a bench warrant against the accused persons, saying her courtroom was not a playground. When the accused walked in, magistrate Chanda warned that the attitude portrayed by the accused persons would make other litigants walk into court as though they were going to watch a football match. She wondered whether one of them should be in jail for them to take the proceedings seriously. In count one, it is alleged that between June 2013 and June 2018, Lt Gen Chimese, being a public officer, namely ZAF commander, engaged employees of ZAF to do works on his private property situated on plot number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, an arbitrary act which was prejudicial to the interests of the government of Zambia.
In the second count, it is alleged that Lt Gen Chimese on the same dates, in Chilanga district, engaged ZAF employees to do works on his private property situated on Farm number 4301/31 in Eureka Area. In the third count, Lt Gen Chimese and Chungu on dates unknown but between January 2012 and February 2019 allegedly concealed and disguised the rights to ownership of nine flats, a single storey building, one guest wing and one semi detached cottage situated on Farm number 2303/Q in Ibex Hill, knowing or having reason to believe that the said property were proceeds of crime.
It is also alleged that Lt Gen Chimese on the same dates in Lusaka, possessed nine flats, one single storey building, one guest wing and one semi detached cottage situated on the said farm, knowing that the said properties were proceeds of crime. And allegations in count five are that between January 2012 and February 2019, in Chilanga district, Lt Gen Chimese and his wife Sharon possessed two houses on Farm number 4301 in Eureka Area, knowing that the said properties were processed of crime.