A Lusaka Magistrate’s Court has canceled the police bond for Chita lodge managing director James Chungu for interfering with witnesses in a matter where he is jointly charged with former Zambia Air Force commander Eric Chimese for money laundering.
Chungu, infamously known as Jerry Fingers is now detained at Kamwala remand prison.
His lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube (KBF) Monday afternoon tried in vain to convince a high court judge to overrule the magistrate court.
In this matter, Lieutenant General Chimese is accused of abuse of authority and jointly charged with Chungu with money laundering.
Last month, Deputy chief State advocate Gamaliel Zimba told magistrate Nsunge Chanda that following the testimony of Zimbabwean Tendai Joe, a builder, that Chungu sent him K700 in August this year through Airtel money asking him to leave the country on the pretext that the Drug Enforcement Commission wanted to arrest him because he had details of the houses he constructed in Ibex Hill.
Zimba told court that the State was worried that Chungu was interfering with witnesses by asking Tendai to leave the country.
He said if Chungu’s behaviour was not curtailed, there was a possibility of him further interfering with State witnesses.
He asked the court to consider exercising its discretion and cancel Chungu’s police bond and remand him in custody.
“We have a concern emanating from the testimony of PW7 (Tendai), to the effect that A2 (James Chungu) reached out to him, requesting that he leaves the country. The State finds that particularly worrisome and tantamount to interference. Our fear is that if that is not curtailed, there is a possibility of interference with State witnesses,” Zimba said.
“We are faced with a situation where Mr James Chungu is on police bond which bond he has continued to enjoy up to now, but the testimony of Tendai is worrisome to say the least in so far as the State deems as an interference. We now beseech this honourable court to consider exercising its discretion by way of cancellation of the police bond,” said Zimba.
But defence lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube said the defence was taken by surprise, and therefore needed fresh instructions from their client.
He said the defence would respond at the next hearing to enable them look at the procedure that was being employed by the State.
Masaka Joe Tendai in his testimony disclosed that Chungu sent him a text message notifying him that his friends had gone back to Zimbabwe and that he was going to send him a K700 so that he could also go back.
Tendai said he told Chungu that he was merely working and there was no need for the DEC to arrest him but Chungu insisted that he leaves the country.
He said that after Chungu gave him the K700, he stopped communicating with him and he used the money to pay for his rentals.
The builder said Chungu thought he had travelled back to Zimbabwe but was surprised to see him in court the day he testified.
Earlier, Saviour Chapepa, an electrician, testified that he wired Chimese’s alleged houses in Ibex Hill and in Baobab area but he stopped working for him after Dexter Maseka brought two electricians from ZAF.
The 37-year-old testified that in 2012, Tendai called him to help install iron bars in a single storey house in Ibex Hill and he was given four general workers to help him.
Chapepa said that when he finished installing the iron bars, he asked Zambia Air Force Squadron pilot Cephas Mudala to engage him in relation to electrifying the houses as he was a supervisor and project manager of the properties.
“Captain Mudala was the one who was buying the materials and taking care of everything that was needed at the plot. I wrote down the requirements and he went and bought them,” Chapepa said.
He told the court that he put pipes and did the wiring in the single storey house, a gym, a cottage and eight flats.
He said when they finished building the (nine) flats, he installed pipes and wired the houses and it was at this point that Mudala left in 2014 and handed over the supervision of the construction works to ZAF Procurement officer Dexter Maseka.
He said Maseka was the supervisor and he used to frequently visit the construction site.
Chapepa said later Maseka took him to Baobab to do piping for a wall fence.
He said Maseka brought two more electricians from ZAF to install electrical fittings.
He said himself and Maseka continued differing and after a month he decided to quit his job in 2015.
Chapepa told the court he was told that the properties belonged to Lt Gen Chimese.
“The time I was picked by Tendai, he told me it was for the ZAF commander. Even him (Lt Gen Chimese) he used to come at the site. Everybody used to say that ‘this is the boss, the ZAF commander, when he comes to the site,” Chapepa said.
He further claimed that he would give Maseka quotations and Lt Gen Chimese would sometimes pay him physically.
The matter comes today November 20 for a response from the defence.