A WITNESS has told the Ndola Magistrate’s Court that suspended Copperbelt commissioner of police Mary Tembo told her that Inspector-General of Police Stella Libongani was allegedly persecuting her because she was afraid that she would divulge information on her purported involvement in the theft of 100 pockets of cement meant for projects when she served as Ndola district officer commanding.
Caroline Nkhata, 39, a senior Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigations officer, yesterday told chief resident magistrate Paul Chisha that Tembo told her under warn-and-caution that senior police officers allegedly wanted her hounded out of the Police Service because she refused to be bribed by copper thieves, commonly known as jerabos.
The senior police officers included former Inspector-General of Police Martin Malama, former Copperbelt commissioner of police Antoneil Mutentwa, former Copperbelt deputy commissioner of police and current Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) commissioner Alita Mbawhe, her then deputy, Milner Muyambango, and someone only identified as Mr Namachila, a former deputy commissioner in charge of administration at the police service headquarters, .
“Your honour, I recorded a warn-and-caution statement on Sep-tember 13, 2013, from the accused and during my interactions with her, she told me that she was being allegedly fought by the IG (Ms Libongani) and some senior police officers because she refused to be on the payroll of Jerabos and that the same officers had been fighting her since her appointment as Copperbelt commissioner of police in 2011,” Ms Nkhata said.
She said Tembo even availed a letter to her allegedly authored by Ms Libongani in which the Inspector General requested her to institute investigations into allegations that she (Ms Libongani) had stolen cement meant for construction of police service structures when she served as Ndola district officer commanding.
The letter dated March 30, 2012, which was submitted to the court, also read that Ms Libongani had allegedly requested Tembo to investigate reports that she was getting bribes from jerabos when she served as Ndola district officer commanding.
Ms Nkhata testified that Tembo told her that, according to the same letter, Ms Libongani was allegedly urging her to expedite investigations into the matter because she wanted it to come to a conclusive end so that she could avail the findings to other investigative wings.
Ms Nkhata also tendered a letter as evidence in court which Tembo wrote to the then Ministry of Home Affairs permanent secretary Maxwell Nkole to complain about her alleged persecution but she was advised not to let the matter involving her abuse of authority of office case die down as she could be sitting on a time bomb.
Tembo, 53, of house number 4, Bokafu Street in Ndola, is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office.
It is alleged that Tembo, on dates unknown but between May 1 and June 30, 2013, abused the office authority of her office as commissioner of police for the Copperbelt Province by obtaining a Toyota Corolla registration number AAX 5716 from Grizzly Mining Limited and used it for her own benefit.
In the second count, it is alleged that Tembo, on dates unknown but between November 1 and December 31, 2012 in Ndola, abused her authority of office as commissioner of Police for the Copperbelt Province by asking Grizzly Mining Limited, a private company, to fix her personal Toyota Cressida registration number F100.