DEC officials storm High Court registry to copy documents on Shoprite scam

Some  Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) officers  on  Thursday this week stormed the High court  registry  seeking documentation of the  judicial review case involving  Lusaka lawyer, Lewis Mosho and his firm Lewis Nathan Advocates filed on February 16 this year.

Meanwhile, a well known  ‘operative’ at  Times of Zambia  Patson Phiri working with  a provincial permanent secretary have been hired do a damage control on the Shoprite scandal. The named PS is also trying to see how he can extort money from both Shoprite and Lawyer Mosho.

Shoprite sources in South Africa revealed that directors are panicking over the matter and are trying by all means through compromised DEC officers to know the amount of evidence that the law firm has availed before the Lusaka High Court.

The South Africa source also added that the matter of shares was a thorn in the flesh of directors who have even recalled a former company secretary, Andre van Zyl, to help sort out the “mess.”

The DEC  officers were at the court between 14:30 hours until about 17:00 hours taking notes  from the bundle of documents filed at the court  whose inter-partes hearing was initially set for  last Wednesday (22 nd February) but has since been adjourned to March 13, this year.

Sources noted Shoprite’s  wish is  to control the matter through remote control from South Africa hence are anxious to know whether the applicants have  included any possible forensic expert evidence in their affidavit in support of the application for leave for  judicial review.

The source added the South African multi-national wishes the state could rely on a forensic report allegedly done by Shoprite.

According to the South Africa source, it is this “report” that Shoprite wishes the criminal course could rely on once DEC charges and arrests Mosho.

And investigations reveal the officers’ manoeuvres are the work of Shoprite in South Africa who were embroiled in a civil matter over their foiled attempt to freeze their former local director Lewis Mosho and law firm’s accounts, as sources in that country confirmed the directors wanted to get wind of documents that have been filed in the matter.

Meanwhile, sources at the Lusaka High Court have questioned the DEC manoeuvre. They say the DEC could have easily sought audience with the Attorney General’s chambers who were served the whole bundle of documents by the applicants.

“We thought the best for the officers was to get the documents from the Attorney General’s chambers who are their principal legal advisors,” one source noted.

According to a search at the High Court principal registry, the Attorney General’s chambers received the bundle of court process February 24 this year.

And the court granted leave February 17 this year but refused to let it operate as a stay opting for an inter-partes hearing to resolve the matters of  an order of certiorari “to remove into the High Court for the purpose of quashing the decision of the Commissioner to seize the applicants’ bank accounts.”

Other matters the applicants are praying for include the order of mandamus directed to and compelling the Commissioner to forthwith withdraw the seizure notices served on the banks; a declaration that the Commissioner’s decision and failure to lift the seized bank accounts “even after representations were made, both in writing and verbally” to the DEC “is extremely unreasonable, mala fide and an abuse of discretionary power and authority.”

Lawyer Mosho and the law firm appointed as transfer secretaries of the controversial 2,700,000 shares have sued the State through the Attorney General as first respondent in a matter the DEC are sued as second respondent.

In the civil matter Shoprite lost the bid to freeze the applicants’ accounts.

The Kitwe High Court quashed the injunction February 2 this year to freeze all bank accounts following a writ of summons Shoprite holdings and its subsidiary (checkers) filed September 1 last year.

In their statement of claim, Shoprite prayed for a declaratory order that the law firm and its partners had breached the contract of mandate of 2003.They also wished the court could grant them relief.

But the defendants (Lewis Nathan advocates) took issue with the originating process on grounds that the writ of summons was not endorsed with two of the defendants’ physical addresses. The defendants also noted that the statement of claim did not conform to the rules of practice as to pleadings and added that Mosho’s partners (Lastone Mwanabo, Charles Chonta and Frederick Mudenda) were improperly joined to the action.

In the first round of the civil matter, the deputy registrar had on December 9 last year ruled that suing the partners in both their firm’s name as well as in the individual partners’ names was a misjoinder.  The deputy registrar subsequently struck out all the defendants and directed Shoprite counsel to make appropriate amendments.

It was also ruled that the statement of claim was “generally marred with evidence mixed with facts, arguments and prolixity”.

The Judge also noted that the deputy registrar had struck out the statement of claim and directed that the amendment be filed before court on or before December 17 last year.

The Shoprite counsel, William Nyirenda, S.C unsuccessfully filed a stay of the deputy registrar’s ruling but later applied for extension of time to file the amended writ and statement of claim.

In the second round, the Judge refused the Shoprite application and dismissed the action with costs to the law firm and its partners on grounds among others that “an interlocutory injunction should not be regarded as a device by which an applicant can attain or create new conditions favourable only to himself”.

The Judge also noted Shoprite had failed to show that “it is only their money that is deposited in the 1st defendant’s accounts in Zambia and elsewhere”, noting, “Indeed great prejudice will be caused particularly to the other clients of the 1st defendant if I grant the injunction the plaintiff seek. Even the business of the 1st defendant may be adversely affected”.

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