COURT ORDERS ARREST OF LUNGU’S AIDE …it’ll be in interest of justice to arrest former health PS Miti for corruption-related charges- magistrate Zulu
THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has ordered the arrest of President Edgar Lungu’s principal private secretary Dr Simon Miti in the interest of justice to answer to corruption related charges brought out at the time he served as Ministry of Health permanent secretary.
And the court has convicted former Ministry of Health human resources officer Henry Kapoko and four others for stealing over K6.8 million from the government and reserved sentencing to today.
Choma-based magistrate Exnorbit Zulu, who was sitting in Lusaka, said it was not too late to arrest Dr Miti and present him before court to also answer to the corruption-related charges.
He said this after convicting Kapoko and others for theft of over K6.8 million public money when they were employees of the Ministry of Health at the time Dr Miti was permanent secretary.
He was appointed last year by President Edgar Lungu.
Magistrate Zulu said Dr Miti should answer to corruption charges because he was aware of what was transpiring in the Ministry although he feigned ignorance.
He said Dr Miti was an accomplice, saying that was the reason why when the State brought him as a witness, he expressed ignorance on the happenings because he had an interest to serve.
And magistrate Zulu has since ordered the State to recover the K6,840,537,636, which Kapoko and others stole from the ministry between October 2007 and January 2009.
The matter has taken over nine years to be concluded.
Further, magistrate Zulu ordered that the property which Kapoko and the others have forfeited to the State should be evaluated by a competent government surveyor to determine their market value and thereafter be sold at 90 per cent of the market value to avoid selling the property cheaply at a public auction.
The forfeited properties include Kapoko’s Mercedes Benz and Best Home Lodge, houses in Roma, Olympia, Ibex Hill and Woodlands Extension, which were bought with money, which was proceeds of crime.
The court further ordered that the money to be realised should be deposited into Control 99 and that the property which would not be auctioned at the public auction should be given to the Ministry of Works and Supply for government use.
In a two-day statutory judgment, magistrate Zulu convicted Kopoko, Zukas Kaoma, Evaristo Musaba, Vincent Luhana and Justine Phiri for theft of the over K6.8 million which they are supposed to pay back with interest, saying they had intentions of permanently depriving the government.
However, the court acquitted Nobert Peleti, Dr Chrispine Sichone, Esau Banda, Luke Makeche and Roy Muswanyeho because the prosecution failed to establish cases against them.
In respect of the convicted persons, magistrate Zulu said they used to purport to be holding workshops for ministry employees such as secretaries and drivers to cover up for the stolen money but there was no evidence to show that such workshops indeed took place.
The court said the other accused persons could have participated in the movement of money from the Ministry in one way or another but they were deceived to do so by Kapoko and his co-convicts, as such, they could not be held liable.
Magistrate Zulu dismissed Kapoko’s defence that he inherited his riches from his father, saying, however, that he benefited extensively from the stolen money.
Kapoko had told the court that; “Efyali na tata (that’s how my father was)”.
Magistrate Zulu added that in his view, Kapoko acquired his property through money laundering and were therefore, proceeds of crime.
The court further said Kapoko and Kaoma knew that they were stealing and that that was the reason why they registered some of their properties in the names of other people.
Magistrate Zulu said it was an odd happening that at the time money was being stolen from the Ministry of Health, Kapoko’s business was prospering on the other side.
Magistrate Zulu then convicted Kapoko and four others and in their lengthy mitigation through their different counsels, among them Kelvin Bwalya, they begged for leniency and mercy because they were remorseful and first offenders apart from Kapoko.
The convicts prayed that the court hands them non-custodial sentences because they have already been punished through the statutory judgment where they are supposed to pay back the K6.8 million stolen from the government and forfeit all the properties they acquired using proceeds of crime.
They said they were married with children and that the convictions have caused them embarrassment.
The convicts cited various authorities to support their mitigation.
And magistrate Zulu reserved sentencing to today so that he looks at the various authorities cited.
Source: The Mast