DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito yesterday escaped from lawful custody after he was arrested and locked up at Chongwe police cells for among other offences lying to the Parliamentary Select Committee, forgery of court documents and fraudulently obtaining a K14 billion loan from the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).
Mr. Nchito escaped after Chongwe Resident Magistrate Moses Phiri referred the matter to the Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda for relocation after he recused himself. This follows an earlier ruling by Lusaka High Court judge Mwila Chitabo, who found that the Chongwe magistrates court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter because the crimes were allegedly committed in Lusaka.
Magistrate Phiri ruled that since he was the respondent in the matter, he had no authority to preside over the matter any further and therefore, he was referring it to Lusaka.
“Since I am the respondent in this matter I should not hear this case any further. I am incompetent and that I have been cited in the ruling from the High Court, that I am the subject in this matter. I therefore refer this matter to Chief Resident Magistrate, CRM, ” ruled Magistrate Phiri before adjourning the court.
At this point police officers started preparing themselves to take Mr. Nchito back to his cell at the Chongwe police station to wait for the completion of formalities, but with the aid of his brother Kapungwe Nchito, Mr. Nchito managed to escape from lawful custody in a gold-plated Jeep.
Police officers in plainclothes who were waiting for further instructions from their Office in-Charge attempted to stop the car but Mr. Nchito sped off.
In an interview, Mr Newton Nguni lawyers led by Keith Mweemba, wondered why Mr. Nchito leave the court premises before he could complete formalities.
Mr. Mweemba who was flanked by Makebi Zulu and Gilbert Phiri described Mr. Nchito’s conduct as having ‘‘escaped from lawful custody’’.
“How do you describe his conduct?
This is the DPP he understands the procedure and the ruling. The ruling did not release him from custody as he was going to appear before the CRM tomorrow (today). He has just escaped from lawful custody, he has to be arrested, “said Mr. Mweemba.
Police officers who were still at the court confronted his brother Nchima Nchito who was representing him in the matter to find the way forward.
Earlier, over 16 plain armed police officers surrounded his house before breaking the door to the room where he had gone to hide.
Police officers allowed Mr. Nchito to dress up as he was still in his pyjamas but instead he locked himself up in one of the rooms in the house before officers were forced to break the door down to fish him out.
He was first interrogated at his house from about 0715 hours till 11:00 before he was officially arrested and detained at Chongwe Police Station pending appearance in the courts later in the day.
Mr. Nchito was driven to Chongwe under heavy police escort in a Red Nissan Hardbody before he was officially arrested around 11:30 hours in Chongwe where a warrant of arrest was issued.
Police spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda confirmed in a statement to the Daily Nation that police had executed the Chongwe Magistrate Court warrant and arrested Mr Nchito and locked him up pending his appearance in court.
Ms Munganga Chanda said Mr Nchito was arrested on two counts of abuse of authority of office, two counts of contempt of court and procuring execution of documents by false pretenses.
She said Mr Nchito was also arrested for altering a false court document and fraudulently contracting of a debt, false swearing and conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.