By CHARLES MUSONDA
A WITNESS has testified that photographer Chella Tukuta asked her to take nude pictures with him before he flooded social media with her other nude pictures he had earlier taken without her consent.
Model and entrepreneur Mercy Mukwiza said this yesterday before Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale in a case Tukuta has been charged with criminal libel for accusing Information Minister Dora Siliya of selling young women to high profile men for sex.
In a video that went viral on Facebook in May this year, Tukuta also accused Ms. Mukwiza of being in a sexual relationship with Northern Province Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje in exchange for a shop he allegedly opened for her at East Park Mall.
Ms. Mukwiza said she has had a bad relationship with Tukuta since 2014 when he captured her in the changing room when she was only in her underwear during fashion show in which she participated.
She said Tukuta started circulating the photos on Facebook with a message that it was his job as a photographer.
She said he later sent her a direct message requesting her to take naked pictures with him without any clothing on. She said after rejecting his request, he insisted on taking the proposed pictures but offered to remove her face from the images.
She said later she started getting messages that her naked pictures were circulating on Facebook and that the pictures were being posted from Tukuta’s account to various groups.
Ms. Mukwiza said at that time she was in Japan representing Zambia at Miss International and she sent him a message to take down the pictures or risk being sued upon her return to Zambia.
She said Tukuta replied that they should meet in court but that upon her return home she forgave him as she was no longer angry with him.
On Tukuta’s allegations against her and Ms. Siliya, Ms. Mukwiza told the court that she was disgusted and was embarrassed for the minister; and felt concerned because if that was true she was not going to associate with her.
“The post was completely false because I have never had a sexual relationship with Mr. Sipanje. The relationship I had with him was strictly business. I was designing Patriotic Front campaign materials and he was one of my contacts in PF in 2015.
“I owned Mysteriously Blu clothing shop at East Park. I had a partner Chanshila Chungu who saw my vision and invested in the business,” Ms. Mukwiza said.
She said after participating in the Miss Universe Zambia beauty contest in 2017, she came out first runner-up and in 2018 she became member of the organizing committee with Malela Palesa from South Africa, Alice Rowland Musukwa, and Natasha Vandamas.
She said she knew Ms. Siliya in 2016 while she was still supplying campaign materials to the PF and that after joining the Miss Universe Zambia organizing committee in 2018, they approached the minister to be a matron to seek sponsorship on the behalf of the organisation.
Ms. Mukwiza said the minister accepted but that she did not have any relationship with her and her fellow committee members and that Ms. Siliya never had any relationship with contestants in the beauty event.
She said she met Mr. Sipanje first before meeting Ms. Siliya and not the other way round as suggested by Tukuta.
Earlier, another witness Marjory Banda, who is one of the board members together with Ms. Siliya in a charitable organisation known as Show You Care Foundation, said she was saddened at Tukuta’s allegations against the minister because she is not a kind of person who could sell girls for sex as she is a mentor to young women.
By CHARLES MUSONDA