State asks High Court to dismiss Chungu’s application for judicial review

By Staff Reporter

THE State has asked the Lusaka High Court to dismiss with costs a case in which Chita Lodge Limited director James Chungu applied for leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the seizure of its property in Lusaka’s Ibex Hill which is believed to belong to former ZAF Commander Lt General Eric Chimese.

Chungu cited the Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Commission, saying the seizure of its properties – subdivision Q of farm no. 2303 was irregular, illegal, unfair and unreasonable.

Chungu filed an affidavit where he stated that the properties have never belonged to Lt Gen Chimese.

DEC investigations officer Mukelebai Kwaleyela has raised two preliminary issues in which he wants the court to determine whether it has jurisdiction to entertain Chungu’s application on ground that it was out of time and whether Chungu was in order to bring to court matters that are subject of criminal proceedings scheduled for March 11 before the chief resident magistrate of the Subordinate Court.

Kwaleyela said an application for judicial review must be promptly and in any event within three months from the date when grounds for the application first arise but that Chungu filed his case on February 5, exactly five months after the event that precipitated his right to commence an application for leave to apply for judicial review.

Kwaleyela asked the court to dismiss the application with costs, saying it was a ploy by Chungu to defeat the cause of criminal justice in the matter where he has been arrested and charged, by way of abusing this court with his application in order to render the criminal proceedings futile.

The officer added that Chungu wanted to use the judicial review process to prepare the stage for his defence in the criminal proceedings where he has been arrested and charged in relation to the properties that were seized and now wants to use the court to retrieve the said properties through an order certiorari.

Chungu is jointly charged with Lt Gen Chimese.

Kwaleyela also alleged that Chungu wanted to use the process of judicial review to obtain documentary evidence and information on how the State wishes to proceed when prosecuting his criminal matter at the Subordinate Court.

He stated that nothing stops Chita Lodge or its director from raising the issue he wants to bring by way of judicial review in the Subordinate Court where they are criminal proceedings involving the same properties they wish to retrieve,  instead of cluttering the court with piecemeal applications over the same properties.