LUSAKA Chief resident magistrate Davies Chibwili has dropped Charity Katanga’s status from former Deputy Inspector General of Police to a convicted criminal on charges of possessing 10 Higer buses using tainted wealth.

Katanga was handed a three year jail term yesterday.

On sending her to jail over the tainted wealth, magistrate Chibwili said it was appalling that Katanga who was second in command in the Police Service was on a law enforcement chase yet she was the biggest culprit.

It was a sorry sight for the horde of her family members who filled up the wooden Court benches as the jailing of Katanga left them inconsolable as they turned the courtroom into a grieving place.

Katanga who composed ‘sausage ma’ a song which aimed at boosting the morale of her juniors in executing their duty, was charged with one count of possessing property suspected to be proceeds of crime before the Economic and Financial Crimes Court.

The former deputy inspector general of police between January 1, 2017 and June 6, 2022 possessed 10 Higer buses valued at K26, 282, 770 which were proceeds of crime  contrary to Section 71(1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act (FPOCA) no. 19 of 2010.

According to his findings magistrate Chibwili said that most State and defense witnesses seemed to have been known to Katanga and according to his observations with regards to their demeanor the convict and the witnesses had a cordial relationship therefore he had look beyond their relationship in analyzing their evidence.

Magistrate Chibwili said the claims by Katanga that her uncle Nelson Phiri who owns a construction and milling company to loaned her some money which she used to purchase the buses is an afterthought.

She said the evidence by Phiri does not corroborate with that of Katanga as he bragged about his companies obtaining contracts from government institutions instead of producing money trails as evidence to aid her case.

He said though Phiri’s financial capacity was not contested, his testimony was irrelevant as there is no nexus between the contracts awarded to his companies and him lending Katanga the money which she used to buy the buses.

Magistrate Chibwili said the testimony by Albert Chibeka who manages Katanga’s transportation business was equally immaterial as he produced cash books showing that the buses were generating income which were mere writings as there was no proof of entry in the receipt books.

“In my view, the investigations officer was justified in holding the view that there was reasonable suspicion in the transactions involving the purchase of buses. If the money that was paid to Higher for the busese did not come from her earnings as demonstrated in her answers, then were did it come from?,”He questioned.

“If the source of those funds could not be satisfactorily explained then it is safe to hold the view that they were proceeds of crime. If I hold that view with regard to the first two buses, it will follow that even those busese which were acquired later from what was raised by the first two buseses, will also fall in the same category of proceeds of crime because the funds used to procure them came from a tainted source.”

Magistrate Chibwili indicated that Katanga has failed to discharge the evidential burden placed on her by the prosecution as her defense is an afterthought.

“The prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt and I find that the accused possessed the 10 buses suspected to be proceeds of crime and hereby I find her guilty on a charge of possessing property suspected to be proceeds of crime and convict her accordingly,” magistrate Chibwili ruled.

In mitigation Benjamin Mwelwa who represented Katanga begged the court to be lenient in meting out punishment as she has served the country diligently by protecting the lives and property of the masses through her entire life.

He said the ‘sausage ma’ hit maker is at the verge of losing her entire destiny and the conviction tag is enough punishment looking at her standing in society.

Mwelwa proposed that the court imposed a suspended sentence unlike a custodial sentence as the offense has no mandatory imprisonment term.

“Being gate keepers to the temple of Justice we plead that the convict be given a second chance by not sending her to prison,” said Mwelwa.

In handing down his sentence magistrate Chibwili said though Katanga is a first offender her misdeeds are unforgivable as she committed crime whilst holding a senior position in the police service.

He said the former top cop was a felony pursuit yet she was equally a wrongdoer.

“I have looked at the offense and the circumstances of its commission which happened at the time the convict was a very senior officer chasing after criminals. It is disheartening to find that she (Katanga)was doing the same things she appeared to be policing,” magistrate Chibwili admonished Katanga.

“ You have put a stain on the police uniform that you wore very proudly and the Police Service will suffer a lack of trust and confidence by your actions.”

He said Katanga needed to be given a custodial sentence to send a warning to public office bearers engaged in fraudulent activities.

“It is important to pass a sentence that will send a clear signal to those of us in positions of responsibility to be honest and act appropriately in our offices because after being caught the ‘fall from grace’ is much harder than for an ordinary citizen,” magistrate Chibwili decreed.

He sentenced Katanga to three years simple imprisonment with effect February 19, 2024.

Family members who witnessed their breadwinner declared a criminal, were left joyless as all they could do was stare in disbelief and shed tears.

Whilst in the doc awaiting to be taken to the holding cells by officers from the Drug Enforcement Commission, Katanga maintained a poker face and hugged her husband Chola Katanga who whispered words of hope and encouragement.

Later the jailbird waved goodbye to the journalists who saw her off with their filming gadgets, while she was being led to a silver Toyota blade which was parked outside the cells awaiting to transport her to her jailhouse as her support team had already vanished.

Katanga’s lawyer Isaac Simbeye has since filed documentation requesting the Court to admit his client to bail pending appeal/

By Mwaka Ndawa

Kalemba February 20, 2024

Previous Post Next Post