HOUSING and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela yesterday sought to discredit a witness who sold property he and three others are accused of concealing.
This was when Chitotela’s defence lawyer, Jonas Zimba, in cross examination of the state witness, applied to the court to order the State to give the defence the statement Mary Kateya Lubinga gave to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and an order to compel Airtel to release call records of the conversations she had with Chitotela.
This was when the witness Ms Lubinga, an assistant director for Human Resource and Administration at the Ministry of Local Government, was testifying as the first prosecution witness when trial commenced before Lusaka Principal Resident Magistrate David Simusamba.
Mr. Zimba said this was to show that Ms. Lubinga was not only a storyteller but had carefully crafted a story she did not initially have.
But Mr. Simusamba dismissed the two applications on grounds that they were premature because the accused persons had not yet been found with a case to answer and that if the defence had noted discrepancies in the witness statement Ms. Lubinga gave to ACC and her oral testimony, she must be asked questions.
Chitotela is charged with Gregory Chibanga, Brut Holdings Limited (where Chibanga is director), and Diris Mukange for two counts of concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In the first count it is alleged that the four did conceal lot number 148 of farm 50A in Makeni South and disguised it in the name of Mukange.
In count two, they are accused of concealing the remaining extent of subdivision 22183 in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill which was also disguised in Mukange’s name.
In her testimony, Ms. Lubinga said she sold the property in August 2016 after negotiating with Chitotela who asked her to reduce the price from K2.5 million to K1.6 million on the agreement that the purchaser would pay property transfer tax but the buyer turned out to be Diris Mukange.
She said this was after one of the real estates agents with whom she advertised her farm number 148/50A came across Chitotela’s wife who was interested in building a house.
She said she engaged her lawyer Izukanji Simposha to handle the transaction and that after some time Mr. Simposha informed her that the sale contract was ready for signing. Ms. Lubinga said in the contract she observed that the name of the purchaser was Diris Mukange.
Trial continues today.