BAILIFFS were on Thursday prevented by Zambia Police from executing a High Court order to recover debts owed by Antonio, Manuela and Claudio Ventriglia to Zambezi Portland Cement Limited, according to the Sheriff of Zambia. And ZPC board member Bishop John Mambo says the bailiffs empowered by the law could not execute the court order because they feared for their lives. According to a High Court order issued in Lusaka on Wednesday, the Ventriglias were ordered to pay K13,535,438.90; US $34,864,548.28; 420,180 euros and 585,912.53 South African Rand with interest owed to Zambezi Portland Cement.
“To the Sheriff of Zambia and his Bailiffs. You are hereby commanded in the President’s name that of the goods and chattels of Antonio Ventriglia, Manuela Ventriglia and Claudio Ventriglia you cause to be made the sums of ZMW13,535,438.90, US$34,864,548.28, €420,180 and ZAR585,912.53 with interest thereon which said sums of money and interest were lately before the High Court of Zambia in a certain action wherein Zambezi Portland Cement Limited is the plaintiff and Antonio Ventriglia, Manuela Ventriglia and Claudio Ventriglia the defendents and by judgment of the said court, bearing the date 13th August 2015, adjudged to be paid by the said Antonio Ventriglia, Manuela Ventriglia and Claudio Ventriglia to the said Zambezi Portland Cement Limited,” read the order in part. But as bailiffs pounced on the trio’s address in Ndola in an attempt to seize the goods and chattels to recover the debts, Zambia Police officers stopped them from executing the court order, according to Sheriff of Zambia, Katrina Maimbolwa-Walubita.
“That’s the position that I was given by my officers who were on the ground. Zambia Police have got no right to stay a court order so the court order was still valid until the court itself granted a stay of execution. So the police merely delayed it whilst the other party [defendants] managed to get a stay because my officers moved in as early as 8 O’clock this [Thursday] morning but were unable to execute it because of the police,” Maimbolwa-Walubita confirmed in an interview. She explained that the stay of execution now meant the Ventriglias would not be liable to meet the debts owed until the matter was resolved in Court. “Until the court rules otherwise, because all court orders are granted by the court and it is only the court who can cancel them or put them back into force. And we [Sheriff’s Office] are just mere messengers of the court. As it is now, there is a stay that says that initial court order has been suspended until further notice,” added Maimbolwa-Walubita. And Bishop Mambo wondered who the State was really protecting in the ongoing wrangles between the Ventriglias and ZPC. “The bailiffs could not execute the High Court order because of the fear of their lives, and of course, orders came from the high authority that those officers from the Sheriff’s office should not be protected and that is how they left,” Bishop said in a separate interview on Thursday.
He also wondered whether the government was really protecting the interests of Zambians working at the company. “What courts are we going to follow whereby this one pulls this side, the other one pulls this side? The Zambezi Portland saga is political; let us come out and sort it out because the lives of the many workers are hanging in the balance! Those Italians cannot have better interest on you, a Zambian. I feel for them and this is why we are taking a stance,” said Bishop Mambo. “We should be a country of laws and we have a President [Edgar Lungu] who is a lawyer; that is a lot of money that you cannot just ignore.”