Former State House Special Assistant to the President for Politics, Zumani Zimba, along with Marlone Banda, Potipher Gwai, and Given Phiri, have applied for bail before the Lusaka High Court. The four individuals are co-accused in a case pending trial.
Citing Article 18(2)(a) of the Constitution and provisions of Section 123 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act no. 6 of 2018 by Act No. 6 of 2023, they seek admission to bail pending trial.
Recently filed documents in the high court have revealed shocking allegations made by Given Phiri, one of the co-accused. Phiri claimed that he and the others were subjected to physical abuse and torture by the police, who allegedly forced them to implicate former President Edgar Lungu and Christopher Zumani Zimba in the case. Sworn affidavits were filed in the Lusaka High Court under Case No. HPBA/16/2023 in the matter of the People Vs Given Phiri, Marlone Banda, Potipher Gwai, and Chris Zumani Zimba.
In his affidavit, Given Phiri identified a senior criminal investigations officer named Officer Simunza Uyoya as the leader of the team that allegedly beat and tortured him. Phiri claimed that the officers informed him about the substantial funding behind the investigations and their interest in implicating President Edgar Lungu and Christopher Zumani in the gassing allegations.
Phiri further explained that his involvement in the case stemmed from an incident in January 2020. He received a call from a lady in Kabwe who had traveled to Sinda and informed him about two Mozambicans selling red mercury and gold for K50,000. Phiri, accompanied by his friend Marlone Banda, embarked on a trip to Eastern Province in a Toyota Mark X to conduct the business deal.
During their journey, they carried items such as used oil for the car, hand sanitizers, cough medicine, and perfume. Their intention was to meet a woman named Sarah Chibwe in Sinda, who would guide them to the two Mozambicans selling the goods.
Upon arrival in Sinda, they were directed to the local police station, where the Mozambicans were being held after an altercation with Sarah Chibwe. Phiri and Banda were asked to prove that they came from Lusaka and presented toll gate receipts as evidence.
They learned that the previous day, a mob had beaten the Mozambicans, who were subsequently rescued by the police. Sarah Chibwe, accompanied by two police officers, had attempted to forcefully obtain the gold and red mercury from the Mozambicans, resulting in the altercation.
As the Mozambicans tried to escape, the mob accused them of being gassers, which led to a chase and subsequent beating. Feeling uneasy about the situation, Phiri and Banda decided to leave, leaving the Mozambicans in police custody.
However, their troubles began when they reached the Petauke Police Checkpoint. After a search, the police discovered the used oil, hand sanitizers, and Phiri’s perfume. They were accused of being involved in the gassing incidents in Sinda and taken to the police station.
Phiri claimed that to prove their involvement, the police sprayed the substances on their faces, but nothing happened. Subsequently, they were transferred to the Chipata Police Station due to the seriousness of the gassing reports.
Eventually, they were transferred to Lusaka. After verifying the details of the incident and confirming the harmless nature of the items in their possession, they were released.
To their surprise, on 23rd March 2023, Phiri received a call from the police, detaining him on allegations of involvement in gassing. He and the others were interrogated and taken to Sinda District, where the police confirmed that no gassing incidents had occurred in the district.
Although they were later released on police bond, they were subsequently rearrested. Phiri stated that after their prolonged detention, the Lusaka High Court granted them a habeas corpus for their release. It was on that day that Zumani Zimba was brought in, detained, and charged with possessing articles of terrorism.
The application for bail by Zumani Zimba, Marlone Banda, Potipher Gwai, and Given Phiri will now be considered by the Lusaka High Court as the legal proceedings continue. The shocking allegations made by Given Phiri of police abuse and forced implication of high-profile figures add another layer of complexity to the case, further highlighting the importance of a fair and impartial investigation.