By CHARLES MUSONDA
THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has dismissed an attempt by defence lawyers to block production of receipts on which businessman and politician Chanda Katotobwe paid K1.5 million purchase price of Ultimate Insurance Company Limited (UICL) when he bought the company for his wife, Felicitas Chibamba Kabwe.
And Ms. Kabwe has testified that the appointment of Luke Lubemba, father of one of the accused persons in the case Richard Lubemba, as UICL board chairperson, was fraudulent as no shareholders’ meeting was ever held to appoint the company’s board of directors.
This is in a case Marshlands Consortium directors Tobias Milambo, 48, Nachi Musonda, 33, and Lubemba, 31, are facing forgery, obtaining money by false pretences, uttering false documents, and theft charges.
Testifying in the case yesterday, Ms. Kabwe said after Milambo, Musonda, and Lubemba approached Mr. Katotobwe in December 2017 with a business proposal to buy an already existing insurance company and work together; the accused persons told her husband that they would own 65 percent shares in UICL through Marshlands Consortium and that the latter would own 35 percent shares but they did not pay for their shares.
She said between February 2018 and April 2018, Mr. Katotobwe paid the K1.5 million in three instalments with all three receipts of K500, 000 each issued in her name and signed off by previous owners Klein Siampongo, Justin Phiri, and Maybin Silavwe.
Ms. Kabwe then identified the three receipts shown to her by the prosecution but one of the defence lawyers Osborne Ngoma objected to production of the receipts by Ms. Kabwe on grounds that she was not the competent witness to produce the receipts as she was not the author and as such their authenticity would be in question but the prosecution argued that the defence’s objection was misplaced.
In her ruling, Magistrate Alice Walusiku said production of documents can be done by either the author or keeper at any given stage and that the issue of authenticity can be cured at cross-examination and allowed production of the receipts by Ms. Kabwe.
She said this after Milambo, Musonda, and Lubemba told Mr. Katotobwe that they did not have money to pay for the shares in UICL and proposed to him that he should buy the company for K1.5 million after which they would pay him K3.5 million for their proposed 65 percent shares.
She said before the accused persons proposed to Mr. Katotobwe, who is also Patriotic Front Luapula member of Parliament, to buy UICL, the couple had planned to invest in a financial institution and therefore the three men’s proposal made good business sense.
Ms. Kabwe, 44, an economist in the Commerce Trade and Industry ministry, said she and her husband agreed to buy UICL in her name and that she would hold on to the company on behalf of their family while Mr. Katotobwe decided to be responsible for the entire purchase transaction.
She said she worked at UICL as general manager-finance and administration from May 14, 2018 up to June 25, 2018, after which she travelled to South Africa and in October 2018 she was shocked and disappointed when she was informed by then UICL finance manager Mr. Silavwe that Milambo, who was consultant, had dismissed him.
Ms. Kabwe said in December 2018 she and her family travelled to Houston, Texas in the US and after her return to Zambia in May 2019 she wrote three letters to Marshlands Consortium calling for a shareholders’ meeting but there was no response.
She said she received a letter from Marshlands Consortium copied to Mr. Luke Lubemba who was indicated as board chairperson, the issue she said shocked and surprised her because at no point was a shareholders’ meeting held to appoint a board chairperson for UICL.
She said she later wrote to the Pensions and Insurance Authority informing the body that the appointment of the board of directors for UICL was fraudulent and further wrote to Mr. Lubemba informing him that his appointment was fraudulent.
Ms. Kabwe said on May 13, 2019 she received a notice for a board meeting from Marshlands Consortium which had one of the agenda items as bank signatories, adding that this too shocked her because no shareholders’ meeting was held to appoint the board of directors for UICL. She said later she wrote to Marshlands Consortium informing them that their proposed board meeting was equally fraudulent as no board of directors for UICL was appointed. Trial continues next Tuesday ,February 8, 2022