THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has ordered lawyer Kaumbu Mwondela representing Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) registrar Christopher Mapani and two others in a case in which they are charged with abuse of office for approving the appointment of Tobias Milambo as Ultimate Insurance chief executive officer.
And resident magistrate Felix Kaoma has also ordered that evidence adduced before him so far when Mwondela was representing Mapani, Nicholas Mbiya and Titus Mkhwale, be expunged from the record and that the case starts afresh on October 30, 2020.
Magistrate Kaoma made the orders after establishing that Mwondela was conflicted in the matter as he had attended a pre-trial at the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) under the guise that he was the institutional counsel for PIA and on the other hand, he wanted to continue representing the accused persons.
Mapani, Mbiya and Mkhwale are facing two counts of abuse of authority of office.
The first count alleges that the trio
between January 1, 2018 and March 30, this year at Lusaka, being persons employed by PIA, a public body as registrar, insurance regulator and deputy registrar insurance respectively, jointly and whilst acting together as public officers, directly and indirectly abused their position, office or authority by approving Milambo as the principal officer for Ultimate Insurance Company Limited.
The arbitrary act was prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.
In the second count, allegations are that the trio during the same period, jointly and whilst acting together as public officers
directly and indirectly abused their offices by issuing a 2020 Insurers Licence to Ultimate Insurance Company Limited but they pleaded not guilty.
Milambo is in court jointly charged with two other Ultimate Insurance directors, Nachi Musonda and Richard Lubemba for fraud and forgery.
And when public prosecutor Noah Mwanza appeared before magistrate Kaoma, he maintained that Mwondela could not represent the accused persons. Mwanza submitted that Mwondela together with PIA board chair Petronella Mwangala and PIA board secretary Kibisa Ngwiri attended a pre-trial on June 12, 2020 for the same case at NPA.
He explained that National Prosecutions Authority invited PIA officials for pre-trial but they were accompanied by Mwondela who was introduced as an in-house lawyer.
At the said pre-trial, Mwondela spoke as an institutional counsel for PIA while Mwangala and Ngwira also made their submissions.
But when Mapani, Mbiya and Mkhwale were dragged to court, the same Mwondela placed himself on record as defence counsel and has been representing the accused persons.
Delivering a ruling, magistrate Kaoma said after hearing Mwanza’s evidence-in-chief and cross examination, he was of the considered view that proceedings in the main trial would be a waste of the court’s time.
“It’s clear to me that Mr Mwondela Kaumbu is conflicted as there is glaring conflict of interest. The learned counsel can’t be seen as a defence lawyer for the accused persons before me when he appeared as an institutional lawyer for the PIA during pre trial,” the court said.
Magistrate Kaoma said Mwondela’s conduct contravenes Rule 33 of the Legal Practitioners Act.
“I have decided to terminate and order that Mr Mwondela and his law firm recuses themselves from this matter and whatever is on record before me be expunged,” said magistrate Kaoma before adjourning the case to October 30 for commencement of fresh trial.
Mwondela on June 30, 2020 was apprehended by the police within the court premises for allegedly sneaking into a meeting that held before the pre-trial.
Quick Justice. Four bandits who staged a dramatic robbery in Ndola have been sentenced to five years
A ‘Zimbabwean business tycoon’ and three other criminals among them a 28-year-old woman have been sentenced to five years imprisonment for theft from a motor vehicle.
The criminals robbed a security guard Francis Kunda from Zambezi Portland Cement.
The security guard was sent by Zambezi Portland Cement managing director Gomeli Litana to withdraw the money.
This is in a matter where Owen Msimanga 48, of house number 161 in Matero, Norman Nguni 47 of house number 1126 Chunga Lusaka, Charles Lunga 45 of unmarked house in Matero, and Ethel Lyambai 28 of house number 1772, Muchinga Road, in Chunga, Lusaka.
The three Zimbabwean Nations and the Zambian woman are charged with theft from motor vehicle.
Particulars of the offence are that the four jointly and whilst acting together did steal K142,082 property of Gomeli Litana.
When the matter came up for plea before Ndola Principal Resident Magistrate Obbister Musukwa, Msimanga who introduced himself as a business executive, Nguni as a business tycoon, Lunga as a vendor and Lyambai as a business lady all pleaded guilty.
The three Zimbabwean Nationals said they stole because they wanted to pay for their children school fees, while Lyambai said she wanted to use it for sustaining the family.
In mitigation, the four asked the court to forgive them because they did not waste the courts time.
But Magistrate Musukwa said cases of theft from motor vehicle were on the rise in Ndola.
“Cases of this nature are so high in the district and a custodial sentence is appropriate. For the first three accused, I sentence you to 5 years imprisonment with hard labour while the fourth accused I sentence you to 5 years simple imprisonment effective today,” Magistrate Musukwa said.