Chitotela acquitted ……… says he knew from the onset that he’s innocent

By Staff Reporter
LUSAKA principal resident magistrate David Simusamba yesterday acquitted Housing and Infrastructure Development minister Ronald Chitotela  of two counts of  concealing properties in Makeni and Ibex Hill which were suspected to be proceeds of crime.
And Chitotela broke down after the court set him at liberty and said from the onset, he knew he was innocent.
Magistrate Simusamba acquitted Chitotela, who is also PF Pambashe member of parliament, and his co-accused Gregory Chibanga, Brut Holdings and Diris Mukange.
In the first count, Chitotela was jointly charged with Chibanga and Brut Holdings Limited for concealing Lot  22183 /M situated in Ibex Hill and 148 of farm 50A situated in Makeni, properties suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The trio were also charged with Mukange who was facing two counts of possession of the two properties which were also reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime but they all pleaded not guilty.
Delivering a ruling on whether Chitotela, Chibanga, Brut Holdings and Mukange have a case to answer or not, magistrate Simusamba said the prosecution has not established a prima facie case against the accused persons to warrant placing them on defence.
He noted that although the act alleged against Chitotela is that of concealing, no such act has been advanced by the prosecution in the facts they presented.
Magistrate Simusamba said instead, the prosecution advanced the act of possession when they alleged that Chitotela had control of the two properties with one Mrs Chitotela after they had been disguised in the names of A4 Diris Mukange.
“Assuming that I accepted the facts proposed by the prosecution, I may not convict the accused in the event that they remained silent for the simple reason that there is no evidence of a factual basis upon which a reasonable suspicion may be anchored that the money alleged to being concealed maybe proceeds of crime,” he said.
Magistrate Simusamba accordingly acquitted Chitotela, Chibanga, Brut Holdings Limited and Mukange of the respective charges under section 206 of the Criminal Procedure Code and set them at liberty.
Meanwhile, after the acquittal, Chitotela welcomed the ruling, saying that from onset, he  knew that he was innocent 
He thanked people who believed in him such as President  Edgar Lungu, chiefs, members of PF and the media
Chitotela said he does not harbour hatred against anyone.
He said it was time to go and work
Chitotela had argued in his submissions on no case to answer that the  evidence given by the prosecution so far  had been so discredited that no reasonable tribunal could  convict him even if he was to remain silent.
Chitotela, through one of his lawyers Jonas Zimba, urged the magistrate to acquit him because no case has been made against him to require him make a defence.
He stated that it was clear that the prosecution had been trying to hit him in the matter below the belt by manufacturing evidence, adding that at no point has the prosecution shown that there was any possession of the properties by him.
Chitotela submitted that the properties are still in the names of the previous owners.
He also stated that the route taken by the prosecution and the investigators clearly showed that there was no guarantee of fair trial as they were investigating the matter while it was on-going in court as some of the document presented were printed a day before court hearing.
Chitotela added that from the evidence adduced by the prosecution, there was no evidence pointing to  how the properties were concealed and there was also no contract between him and the seller.