A STATE witness has testified how he was shown four property valuation reports by the police in a case in which three Ultimate Insurance directors are charged with 15 counts of forgery, uttering false documents and theft.
And three defence lawyers – Nchima Nchito State Counsel, Jonas Zimba and Chisuwo Hamwela have withdrawn from representing the Ultimate Insurance directors after the magistrate reported them to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) for misconduct.
Tobias Milambo, 48, Nachi Musonda, 33, and Richard Lubemba, 31 are facing forgery, obtaining money by false pretenses, uttering false documents and theft charges.
Allegations are that the accused persons forged documents purporting to show that they had been appointed as directors at Ultimate Insurance Company Limited when in fact not.
It is further alleged that between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019, the accused, with intent to defraud, forged a the Valuation Report on stand 9192/35 situated along Manunga Road, Ndola.
Further allegations are that the accused persons forged the said document by purporting to show that it was genuinely issued and signed by authorised Bitrust Real Estate Innovation Solution for Investors, when in fact not.
Testifying in examination-in-chief before resident magistrate Alice Walusiku, Bitrust Real Estate principal consultant and founder, Holland Chanda Mulenga, said he was visited by police officers in October last year who showed him four property valuation reports.
He however, said the four valuation reports he was shown were a forgery as he never authored or appended his signature.
Mr Mulenga, who started his testimony by describing the procedures which his company go through before producing a valuation report, said the ones shown to him had various errors such as wrong physical office address, e-mail, it did not have an executive summary, the logo was wrong and some of his qualifications were missing.
He said the forged valuation reports showed that the offices for Bitrust Real Estate was at Nkwazi House on Chachacha Road but explained that the company last operated from there before 2016.
Mr Mulenga said his company now operates at plot 1517, Manchinchi road in Northmead.
The witness said the alleged forged reports did not indicate the name of the person who inspected the property when all the property valuation reports generated by Bitrust Real Estate have names of the inspectors.
“The signature is not mine, I never authored these documents, they never originated from our office. We don’t put valuation calculations in the report but these four documents which the police showed me bears calculations,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said the report indicated that Bitrust Real Estate was accredited to the Zambia Institute of Valuators but said such an institution has never existed in Zambia.
He said the amounts on some of the properties in the reports were devalued which should not be the case unless the property is brought down.
Mr Mulenga said the market value for Stand number 9192/35 in Ndola was K2.4 million as at January 6, 2018 while in the alleged forged report, the same property was valued at K420,000 as at May 31, 2018.
“The market value cannot drop that quickly unless you demolish the structure and leave it to the land value but when I see inside the report, they are construction details between the two reports (P7 and P8) which appears to be the same.
Therefore, it is not possible for the property to lose value like that,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said the reports where therefore, forged by the three directors, which is a crime.
But magistrate Walusiku advised him against making a conclusion because that was for the court and not a witness.
Earlier, defence lawyers Mr Nchima Nchito, Mr Zimba and Mr Hamwela, withdrew their services following magistrate Walusiku’s decision to report them to LAZ for misconduct.
When public prosecutor Mr Noah Mwanza called the case, he said the prosecution was ready to proceed with five witnesses.
Defence lawyer Osborne Ngoma then placed himself on record, saying he has been engaged as defence counsel.
Before Mwanza could call his first witness, Mr Zimba asked to address the court.
He said the defence team comprising Mr Nchito, State Counsel, himself and Mr Hamwela would no longer represent the accused persons.
“I have been representing the three accused persons in the matter and in two rulings before this court, myself, State Counsel Nchima Nchito and Chisuwo Hamwela have been reported to the Law Association of Zambia. For that reason, we ask ourselves a question as regards whether we can continue acting for the accused persons in this matter,” Mr Zimba said.
He said the three have reached an inescapable conclusion that under the circumstances, they ought not to continue representing the accused.
“For that reason, I have instructions from State Counsel and counsel Hamwela to beg leave of this court to excuse us from this matter. Mr Ngoma will continue with this matter,” Mr Zimba submitted.
In her ruling, magistrate Walusiku said: “Since it has come from the defence themselves that their conscious tells them that they should withdraw.
The court has no objection, the said lawyers are therefore, excused.”
Magistrate Walusiku on September 25, 2020 reported the three defence lawyers to the LAZ for misconduct.
This was after the defence produced a forged document showing that one of the accused, Musonda, tested positive for COVID-19.
The defence had also made several applications before different courts which magistrate Walusiku described as forum shopping and abuse of court process.
The matter comes up tomorrow for cross examination.
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Nurse, ambulance driver killed in Lundazi road traffic accident
AN ambulance taking a patient from Ng’onga to Lundazi Hospital hit a tree at Mphamba Bridge, killing a nurse and the driver, police said.
Eastern Province Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Achiume said the accident happened at 2am.
He said the driver, Stephen Mulenga, a ZNS officer of Lumezi ZNS Camp, who was carrying 3 passengers sustained fatal head injuries and died on the spot. Mr Peter Mwanza a nurse from Lundazi District Hospital sustained head injuries and also died on the spot.
The survivors, Crodina Moyo also of Lundazi District Health Office and an unknown male adult of unknown abode complained of general body pains and are admitted to the District Hospital.
Mr. Achiume said the accident happened when the driver of the ambulance failed to negotiate a curve and careered off the road on the right side, hitting into a tree and fell into a ditch.