THE Lusaka High Court has upheld Andrew Banda’s two year jail sentence on corruption charges as determined by the Magistrate Court.
Banda, 54, had appealed against the Lusaka Magistrates Court judgment that found him guilty of soliciting and receiving up to K171,000 from an Italian Company, Fratelli Locci SRI Limited as gratification for assisting them acquire Government contracts.
High Court Judge Mwila Chitoba said he could not overturn the decision made by the Magistrates court because there was overwhelming evidence on which the ruling and sentencing was based.
He explained that the court had established beyond reasonable doubt that Banda did solicit and received K171 000 as gratification for securing Government contracts for the Italian businessman Antonelli Locci when he was first secretary at the Zambian High Commission in that country.
In his judgment, Judge Chitoba explained that Fratelli Locci which was awarded contracts by the Road Development Agency (RDA) did pay Banda two percent of the contract sum as gratification for the project.
He said the High Court was convinced that Banda, who signed a contract with the Italian company for the two percent payment for every Government contract the company engaged in, solicited for the payment against the Anti Corruption Act Section 22.
Judge Chitoba explained that he was in agreement with the findings of the Magistrate Courts that the meetings held by Locci and Banda were indeed for negotiations for gratification, adding that “therefore, I cannot fault the Magistrate, and therefore, dismiss the application”.
Earlier, an attempt to delay the passing of judgment was thrown out after Banda requested for an adjournment to allow him recover as he was on bed rest and receiving treatment for hypertension from the Chipata General Hospital. His lawyer Milner Katolo of Milner Katolo and Associates pleaded with the court explaining that although Banda was in Court, it was against medical advice as he was supposed to be on total bed rest.
But acting Senior State Advocate Joseph Akapelwa charged that the matter was only coming up for judgment and therefore could not be prejudicial to the appellant.
Mr Akapelwa said there was no need to further delay judgment as it would further delay conclusion of the matter.
Judge Chitoba threw out the application explaining that there was no legislature to grant such a request on grounds of illness, and that indeed it would just further delay the disposing of the matter.
He said evidence before the Court proved that indeed Banda solicited for payment in signing an agreement with the Italian company for the two percent payment for every contract awarded from the Zambian Government.
Judge Chitoba said Banda arranged for a private meeting between Fratelli Locci Limited and RDA after which the company was awarded the road contracts.
He said there was no known business deals between Banda’s company, AB Logistics and Fratelli Locci which received the payments from Mr Locci, which was gratification for the projects awarded.
Banda, who is fourth republican president Rupiah Banda’s son, was found guilty by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court of soliciting and receiving over K171,000 as reward for assisting Fratelli Locci SRI, a company owned by Italian businessman, Antenello Locci, with Government contracts.
The High Court found that as director and signatory at AB Logistics, Banda should be responsible for payments made to the company, and that he could not give legal justification for receiving the payment he did other than gratification.