Former deputy director in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga, yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and money laundering involving K105.9 million which he allegedly stole from the ministry between July and October last year.
Businessperson Angela Katengeza, who owns Faith Construction, also pleaded not guilty to the offence of money laundering for which she is charged alongside Kalonga who is also answering other charges whose cases are yet to come before court such as facilitation of the purchase of six buses which the ministry disowned.
The prosecution started parading witnesses to prove that Kalonga stole K105 million from government coffers, but not before his lawyer Joseph Kamkwasi made an application objecting to the framing of the charges against his client, specifically that ‘Capital Hill’ was too broad in reference to a place where the offence was committed.
Said Kamkwasi: “The framing of the charge would require the State to specifically mention the department where the accused person committed the office. It makes it easy for the accused person to remember if at all anything happened and appreciate what the State is talking about.”
Kamkwasi’s co-counsel, Manuel Theu, also put across objections in relation to disclosure of witness statements which he claimed the State had not provided as required before trial started.
He also wondered why the charges against Kalonga were not “theft by a public servant” and instead mere “theft” yet he is alleged to have committed the offence in his capacity as an officer in the Ministry of Tourism.
But on the objection of particulars of the charge, private practice lawyer KamudoniNyasulu, who is the State prosecutor, argued that it was not necessary to include particulars of the offence on the charge sheet because that would be part of evidence.
Said Nyasulu: “In fact, evidence will show that the State doesn’t have a particular ministry or department where the money was stolen.”
In her ruling on disclosure of witness statements, High Court Judge Fiona Mwale gave the prosecution one hour to hand over documents to the defence, but on the charges against Kalonga, she said it would be premature for her to start interfering in the case of the prosecution.
But in his testimony, the first witness who was director of finance and administration in the Ministry of Tourism, KensonMbwana, came under fire from Kalonga’s lawyer during cross-examination because he could not explain the origins of the two cheques tendered as evidence, one amounting to K36.5 million (US$88 592) and another K69.4 million (US$168 204) payable to Faith Construction.