TRIAL in a case former First Lady Esther Lungu is accused of theft of cars opened yesterday with a herbalist testifying against her.
Elizabeth Phiri tetsief how how she was picked and beaten by three armed police officers who later took her to former President Edgar Lungu’s house where Mrs Lungu demanded US$400,000 from her.
Ms Phiri said she was told that the money in question was initially given to Mr Lungu’s nice Catherine Banda who later told the Lungu’s that she gave the money to her(Ms Phiri).
In this case, Mrs Lungu, Ms Banda and there others, who include two police officers, are charged with theft of cars and money laundering involving over K1.5million.
Mrs Lungu is also accused of concealing US$400,000, money reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Other suspects are James Phiri and Lee Chisulo, both police officers, Kapambwe Lungu.
Between August 9, 2021 and September 30, 2022, the five allegedly stole a Mitsubishi canter worth K 320,000, belonging to Ms Phiri.
It is also alleged that the accused stole a Toyota Alex worth K 110,000 belonging to Furhana Patel.
Mrs Lungu and others are also accused of stealing a certificate of title relating to stand number S/LUSAKA/333/2977 situated in Libala, worth K 1,050,000 belonging to Ms Phiri.
During continued trial, Ms Phiri narrated how in 2020, she met Ms Banda who sought her herbal services so that she can find a husband and bear more children.
The herbalist said after the services were rendered at K4, 000, Ms Banda, who told her she was an orphan, became close to her and she even introduced Ms Banda to her daughter, Furhana.
“She [Ms Banda] started phoning telling me that she was at Furhana’s place in Libala,” the witness said.
Ms Phiri said sometime last year, she was picked up by plain clothed armed policemen who also beat up together with Ms Banda.
“While beating her [Ms Banda] they said they want the ‘parcel’.
“Catherine pointed at me and said she gave it [parcel] to me. They held me and started beating me and asked me to give them the parcel,” she said.
Ms Phiri said the three men put her in a van and took her to her house where they searched the rooms.
The armed men continued to demand for “the parcel” and threatened to kill her before she was detained at a police cell and later taken to Mr Lungu’s residence.
“When they took me into the house, Mrs Lungu was seated directly to the door. When I looked to the side, I saw Mr Edgar [Lungu],” she said.
She said Mr Lungu explained that she was taken to the house in connection with a missing US$40,000 he had given Mrs Lungu.
“He said ‘My wife got that money and gave it to my niece, Catherine Banda”.
Ms Phiri said she expressed ignorance about the US$400,000.
The court heard that Ms Lungu then instructed that Ms Phiri be taken back to her home because she appeared confused.
She said the following morning, Mrs Lungu phoned her and asked her to go to her house in Ibex.
Ms Phiri started off to Ibex accompanied by her daughter Furhana.
On arrival, Mrs Lungu asked Ms Banda to enlist the goods the witness bought purportedly using the US$400,000.
Ms Phiri said Mrs Lungu called the three accused men to pick her and proceed to grab the properties she bought using the US$400,000.
“They got a canter, a Runx and Alext for my child Fahana, they got the white books for the vehicle and the title deed of a property in Libala,” she narrated.
She told the court that she wa never given the US$400,000 and that the money she bought the house was given to her by Chief Mukuni of Kazungula who is her grand father.