Gen Chimese, wife and Chungu survives bench warrant
By Staff Reporter
FORMER Zambia Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimese, his wife Sharon and and co-accused James Chungu who is Chita Lodges managing director yesterday survived a bench warrant which magistrate Lusaka magistrate Nsunge Chanda threatened to issue if they did not show up in court in five minutes.
Magistrate Chanda threatened to issue a bench warrant and remand Gen Chimese, Sharon and Chungu in custody because they took long to return to court after the case was earlier stood down.
The court stood down the case to allow the accused persons organise themselves after she refused to adjourn the case on account of their lead defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya and Kebby Wishimanga being out of jurisdiction.
The lawyer, a Mr Phiri, who was standing in for KBF and Wishimanga applied for an adjournment because senior defence counsels were not around.
However, the State through Chief State advocate Gamaliel Zimba indicated that he was ready to proceed to trial with six witnesses.
Defence counsel Phiri conferred with Zimba and the former applied to see the magistrate in chambers but she declined, saying all she wanted to hear was evidence.
She said she would proceed to hear the case even in the absence of senior defence lawyers because they knew the dates and also that they knew the procedure of adjourn ing cases.
Magistrate Chanda then stood down the case as she continued attending to other matters.
When the case of Gen Chimese and others was recalled by Zimba, the accused persons were no where to be seen.
Zimba walked outside and shouted Eric Chimese! But he and others were not nearby.
This prompted magistrate Chanda to order that she would issue an arrest warrant if the accused did not show up in five minutes.
Magistrate Chanda said the court was not a play ground, adding that she did not like the attitude of accused persons.
She said the accused were undermining her and she could not tolerate such.
“Advise them counsel, in five minutes I will issue a bench warrant if they are not in court and remand them in custody,” magistrate Chanda warned.
But before the five minutes elapsed, Chungu walked in and went straight to the dock, followed by Sharon as Gen Chimese followed behind.
The magistrate then turned to lawyer Phiri to find out where the accused had gone to but he said they were outside.
“This attitude you have…that is why other litigants will be coming to court like they are coming to watch football,” she said.
And trial continued with a witness, Dexter Maseko, an equipment officer at ZAF, narrating how on January 7, 2019, he was summoned by officers from the Anti Money Laundering Unit of the Drug Enforcement Commission ( DEC ) who wanted to inquire if he knew about any properties owned by Gen Chimese.
Lt Col Maseko said he told the officers that he did not know of any property for Gen Chimese because he had not shown him any or papers over the same.
He said the officers tried to catch his attention because he told them that he was the Mess manager at ZAF Chamber Valley base where he worked closely with Gen Chimese when they were constructing the banquet hall.
Lt Col Maseko said he also told officers that he did not know anything about Gen Chimese’s property as he only interacted with him over the construction of the banquet hall.
He said ZAF constructed the banquet hall in January 2015 and he has been the Mess manager since 2010.
Lt Col Maseko explained that being the Mess manager and the place being constructed in the area, he was in charge and worked with Gen Chimese to tell him the challenges the project was facing and other updates as he was the ZAF boss.
He said that he only discussed work related issues with Gen Chimese regarding the construction of the banquet hall.
Meanwhile, Martin Chanda Mwensha, an electrician at ZAF, testified how he was asked to fit chandeliers and down lights at a property allegedly belonging to Gen Chimese.
He said he did all the electrical works at the nine houses in Ibex Hill.
Mwensha said he did the works from 2016 to 2018 but was not paid anything.
He said his boss director works was the one that took him to Gen Chimese who told him that he needed to be assisted with works at the property.
Asked to describe the said property, Mwensha said the nine houses with three bedroomed each, self-contained, had dinning rooms and carports.
The court is tomorrow, Wednesday expected to go and view the same property in Ibex Hill.
Gen Chimese, Sharon and Chungu are facing five counts of abuse of authority and money laundering relating to properties after two counts were discontinued by the State.
It is alleged in one of the five counts that Gen Chimese, being a public officer at the time, namely ZAF Commander, abused his authority of office, by engaging ZAF employees to do some works on his private property in Ibex Hill.
Other allegations are that Gen Chimese and Chungu jointly and whilst acting together concealed and disguised the rights with respect to ownership of nine flats, one single storey building, one guest wing and one semi detached cottage situated on Farm no. 2303 /Q in Ibex Hill.
It is further alleged that this is despite the duo having knowledge to believe that the said properties were a proceed of