By Agness Changala-Katongo
Health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has failed to take plea in a case he is charged with four counts of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime due to confusion caused by PF cadres, several other sympathizers and lack of security.
The confusion forced the court to adjourn the case to July 16.
In count one, it is alleged that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed US$200,000 which was used to purchase 6,000 shares in Samfya Marines and Tourism Service Limited from Den Daas Investment Zambia Limited, property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In count two, it is alleged that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 in Lusaka possessed K270,000 cash which was used to purchase 2,000 shares in Samfya Marines and and Tourism Services Limited from Leo Jonas Ngosa Investment Limited, property suspected of being proceeds of crime.
In count three, it is alleged that Dr Chilufya on an unknown date but between January 1, 2018 and December 30, 2019 possessed K3,000,000 which was used to purchase Lot No. 365/366 also known as Spark Guest House situated in Mansa district of Luapula Property, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In the fourth and last count, it is alleged that Dr Chilufya on a date unknown but between January 1, 2017 and December 32, 2017 in. & Lusaka possessed US$52,000 which was used to purchase a passenger boat also known as Transport 32 from Smart Own FZE of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
After his case was called, Dr Chilufya went to the accused dock but before any progress was made, confusion ensued outside court room 3 where he was appearing for plea.
This development made it difficult for Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale to preside over the matter.
Ealier, before Chitalu Chilufya arrived at court, PF cadres and sympathizers were already there and no police officers were present.
The normal practice at court is that whenever a case involving political party leaders or cadres are appearing, there is heavy presence of police armed in riot gear.
But surprisingly, today was different as only a few police officers who watched the confusion helplessly were spotted.
Sources revealed to Daily Revelation that Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri and other relevant officers were aware of Dr Chilufya’s appearance but failed to send police officers to control the confusion which caused him not to take plea.
The first batch of cadres arrived at 07:20 hours in a Pick Up vehicle.
Judiciary security at the gate explained to them about the COVID-19 guidliness and the restricted entry in the court premises.
Some understood the explainantion while five of them did not and later forced entry into the court premises.
10 minutes later, PF Lusaka Province secretary Kennedy Kamba arrived at court with over 50 cadres in six vehicles and buses.
All the cadres that went with Kamba forced entry into the court premises forcing the judiciary security to report to magistrate Mwale who instructed them to lock all the gates and identify the leaders to go and meet with him and see how best the situation could be handled.
And in the meeting, the leaders who included Kamba, and two other PF officials assured magistrate Mwale that the cadres would only enter premises to offer solidarity to the minister and not the court room.
However, when Dr Chilufya arrived slightly before 09:00 hours, every cadre and smypathiser mobbed him and no social distance was even observed.
The minister who was clad in a blue suit and masked up, was accompanied by his wife Mutinta and other senior party officials.
He spent a few minutes interacting with cadres and sympathizers some of whom were even pushing journalists and were armed with guns.
One of his lawyers Tutwa Ngulube was heard pleading with the people to observe social distancing but his pleas were in vain.
After a short interaction with Dr Chilufya, PF cadres and sympathizers went into the court room where he was expected to appear and filled all the benches ignoring all the guildlines on social distancing.
A court official ordered them to leave the court room as they would be called when the minister’s case was called.
Some went out but others remained.
When Dr Chilufya entered court room, there was no space for him and the wife to sit.
Kamba who took over the role of the judiciary security officers, moved some people and created space for them to sit.
When Dr Chilufya entered court room, magistrate Mwale had already sat and was adjourning NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili’s case.
As Kambwili was leaving the court room, Dr Chitalu asked someone to stop him.
He stood up and walked over and greeted him.
But by the time Dr Chilufya’s case was being called, confusion had ensued outside as cadres and sympathisers wanted to force their way into court.
Kamba was seen bringing more people into the court room much to the dismay of magistrate Mwale.
Magistrate Mwale attempted to clear the court room by asking only those with cases to be present but it did not yield any results.
At this point, magistrate Mwale asked the parties to go the Chambers.
When they returned, defence lawyer Tutwa Ngulube informed journalists that the case had been adjourned to July 16, due to noise, confusion and lack of security.
After the case was adjourned, cadres escorted Dr Chilufya to the vehicle who immediately drove out.
The cadres briefly sung solidarity songs and displayed banners written ECL 100 percent sole candidate.