A WITNESS has told the Lusaka magistrates’s court that he delivered two hammer mills from Saro to former Labour minister Austin Liato’s ministerial house in Woodlands using a National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) truck.
This is in a matter in which Liato, 46, a former member of Parliament for Kaoma Central is charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to the law.
Tony Nawa Akashambatwa, 46, a former driver at NAPSA told the court that according to a receipt obtained from Saro, the hammer mills were purchased by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
Mr Akashambatwa of Matero Township and now working for Bonnet Car Hire said he also ferried blocks and other building materials to Liato’s farm in Mwembeshi using the same NAPSA vehicle after he was instructed by his boss to do so.
He told Senior Resident Magistrate David Simusamba that around April 2010, he was instructed by his boss at NAPSA to get a truck from NAPSA workshop and get further instructions from the minister.
Mr Akashambatwa said he was instructed to work with Moses Zulu for a period of two weeks.
He said after ferrying blocks and other building materials to Liato’s farm for some days, Mr Zulu, on April 19, 2010 received a call from Liato instructing them to go to Saro to collect some equipment.
Mr Akashambatwa said that when they got to Saro, he was instructed to park the vehicle inside and a folklift was used to load two hammer mills onto the truck and Mr Zulu signed for their collection.
He said the hammer mills were delivered to Liato’s ministerial residence in Woodlands near State House and Liato’s wife was the one who showed them where to put the equipment.
Mr Akashambatwa, however, told the court in cross-examination that he lied to the court when he said he collected the hammer mills on April 19, 2010 instead of May 19, 2010 because he had mixed the two months insisting later in re-examination that the hammer mills were collected on May 19, 2010.
Another witness narrated how the Government joint investigative team (GJIT) on November 24, 2011 searched Liato’s farm after receiving a report that there were items suspected to have been illegally acquired at farm L/44 Mpamba in Mwembeshi.
ACC investigation officer Chipezana Banda, 34, told the court that after the search, two hammer mills among other items were discovered and seized from Liato’s farm.
Ms Banda said that efforts were made to contact Liato but he instead could not avail himself to the officers and advised them to go back the following day.
She said that looking at the nature of the case, they went ahead to conduct a search after which the hammer mills were discovered.
Ms Banda said that a further search at Saro revealed that the hammer mills in question were paid for by International Drug Company and KCM.
It is alleged that Liato on or about June 8, 2010, being minister of Labour did abuse authority of office by facilitating the sinking of two bore holes at his farm in Mwembeshi, to the disadvantage of the Government of Zambia.
Liato is in the second count alleged to have on an unknown date but between May 14, 2010 and May 19, 2010 Liato abused the authority of office by facilitating the diversion of two hammer mills meant for the people of Kaoma District.