Liato threatened to kill workers

Former Labour Minister Austin Liato

A WITNESS has testified that former Labour minister Austin Liato and his relatives allegedly threatened to kill his three farm workers after suspecting them of having informed police about the K2.1 billion found buried at his farm in Mwembeshi area.

And in cross examination, defence counsel Nelly Mutti suggested to the witness that Liato had called him and the others, thieves because they had allegedly stolen K600 million from the trunks saying the money was supposed to be K2.7 billion and not the K2.1billion declared by the police.

But the witness Paul Kakombe denied the allegations and insisted that he was with the police and after counting the money which was found to be K2.1billion.

Meanwhile, Liato’s trial was yesterday characterised by heavy security called in to seal-off the court premises as the two trunks carrying the K2.1 billion dug-out from the former Kaoma Central Member of Parliament’s farm were being brought in as exhibits.

Liato is facing one count of being in possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 (1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act number 19 of 2010 of the Laws of Zambia.

Particulars of the offence allege that Liato, 47, did possess and conceal money at his farm, Mwembeshi Farm number L Mpamba 144, amounting to K2.1 billion reasonably and suspected of being proceeds of crime.

Mr Kakombe, 36, of Kaoma told Principal Resident Magistrate, Aridah Chulu, that Liato returned home two days after police dug out the K2.1 billion at his farm and bundled all the three workers in his Pajero vehicle and drove to an unknown destination while threatening to kill them or make them mad.

The witness said Liato who was in the company of his two brothers Kawewe and Peter later drove to their sister’s house, a Mrs Naminano where one of his friends was allegedly beaten by Liato when he attempted to explain to his relatives that they were not the ones who informed the police.

“He called us liars, thieves and betrayers while threatening to kill us but we challenged him and his relatives to first go and kill President Michael Sata and the police because the police had told us that they were sent by the President to search his farm,” he said.

Mr Kakombe told the court that he was among the people that assisted in digging out the two trunks that were buried under a thick concrete burglar-barred chalet with security alarm systems.

He said he and his friends were shocked to see the two trunks containing huge sums of money while their wives fainted upon seeing that kind of money.

The witness said he was with the police from the time they managed to dig-out the trunks until they broke the two safes with one containing K1 billion and the second carrying K1.1 billion.

He said they later drove to police headquarters together with the police.

Mr Kakombe said the police then opened the two trunks in the presence of the two farm workers; himself and Kalu and counted the money together.

Kalu then signed for the money and they were later taken back to the farm.

Mutemwa Mutemwa asked the witness whether Liato had the right to bury the money under ground or whether he was supposed to get permission from anyone on how he should keep his money.

In response, Mr Kakombe said Liato was wrong to bury the money because he was an account holder and was supposed to take it to the bank.

And Magistrate Chulu advised Mr Mutemwa not to take the witness to task citing an Act because he was a lay person and should not expect him to know the State provisions of the Law.

And security officers, some in plain clothes, sealed-off the court premises as early as 08:30 hours to give protection to the money as it was being brought before the court.

The officers accompanied the trunks while clearing on-lookers from the way as they led the trunks into the courtroom.

Scores of onlookers hovered around the court entrance to have a
glimpse of the trunks.

And the presiding Magistrate warned that she would in future, ask the police to clear the court-room if people continued to murmur and pass comments during court sessions.

The court was initially supposed to move to Liato’s farm house but this was rescheduled because of the poor state of the roads following heavy rains in recent days.

Trial continues today.

[Times of Zambia]


  1. we want the results quickly…who’s money is that and where did it come from?…the zanaco tags were seen on the cash…start by investigating zanaco and ask them why and how did they give an individual a withdraw of K2.1billion…..ine pakufumya ka K20m palabe ilyash…..

  2. Is this case Liato against the farmer worker or liato against the state. do see the meaning here…why is the worker talking about his low salary?????? 

  3. Interesting @does Liato require permission from anybody on how to keep his money

    @wifes fainted upon seeing the money in trucks

    But who ever reported this to the police was stupid.he should have organised himself properly and dug the money and flee.Liato would have complained to nobody.very fooolish indeed.The chap can not even steal.These Kaoma villagers-kwa hae luli.if it was a BEMBA all that loot would been his.

  4. This is a waste of time. Nobody is missing K2.1billion, so Liato didn’t steal the money. In the end he will walk. Just because he buried the money does not make it a criminal offense. Villagers routinely bury their money.

  5. Ladies and gentlemen, i am worried that this case is not headed anywhere. i expected the witness to tell the court that liato stole the money from somewhere. Most of what this witness is saying is either hearsay or his opinion. Infact, this witness should have declared interest in this matter since he is an aggrieved party i.e. low salary of k200,000, hence he can even lie because of that. let advise other bloggers to look at the facts of the case and not passing judgement on LIATO. The chap is a witness but he does not know the serial numbers of the cash. Lets wait and see.

  6. Liato should walk away scot-free if his lawyers are smart.  There is no complainant in this case.  Nobody is missing the money.  Have they audited the Labour ministry’s cash boxes and found that some money is missing?  Even the Banking and Financial Services Act does not require all or any money to be banked.  In the 1980s, the UNIP govt used to target the Indian traders who held lots money at home by changing the currency notes all of a suddenly with limited amounts being changeable over the counter and old notes becoming invalid within a short period.  One can sell a house for K2.1 billion in Kabulonga and insist on being paid in cash, for example.

    • The can of worms is just being opened sir,dont forget the farm worker said the police told them that they were sent by HE MCS.Just wait and see bwana.

  7. @#5.He was wondering or making comparison.When one is paying you K 200pin u might think that one has not enuff to pay mo but when u discover that your boss has K 2.1 billion buried underground any reasonable person might wonder worse an employee who was getting petty cash/.thats the point the farmer worker wanted u to understand how greedy liato was/is.hope my contribution settles well with you.good day

  8. Just give this man his money. Is he the first and only billionaire in Zambia that people should faint at the sight of this money? You guys are jokers.

  9. Another lost case. Nchito has never won any case on plunder of national resources, apart from enriching himself from all the court charges he got as a lawyer. Who has ever been arrested? Non. Even Chungu the media found guilty is a free man today and would have easily been in Govt by now.

  10. Why is he charged only with One Count… what about all other potential charges associated with such criminality – money laundering; tax evasion; non-circulation of cash or some charge violating Bank of Zambia act; possession of illicit money; counterfeiting; racketeering; etc (lawyers?). I thought “one count of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime” is a bit weak and probably hard to prove.

    Anyway, whichever the case, this guy deserves to go to jail at all cost. I hope Mutembo nails him to the cross so he doesn’t get away with this. Jeez, this guy isn’t even smart enough to open up a Swiss bank account or something or putting the money under his brothers’ names.

    As for those arguing that there is no complainant, its The People of Zambia vs Liato!

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