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The first witness in the K2.1 billion case involving former Labour minister Austin Liato has narrated how the former minster threatened to kill him and two of his colleagues after Police discovered the buried money, accusing them of betraying him.
Testifying before Principal Magistrate Aridah Chulu was Paul Lumano Kakumbi, a former employee of Mr. Liato at his Mwembeshi farm who told the court how Mr. Liato and his alleged family members called him a criminal and thief and blamed him for discovery by the security officers of the money.
This is in a case in which Mr. Liato is charged with being in possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 subsection 1 of the forfeiture of proceeds of crime Act number 19 of 2010 of the Laws of Zambia.
Particulars of the offence are that on November 24, 2011, Mr. Liato 46 did possess and conceal money amounting to K2.1 billion on his Farm number L. Mpamba 44 in Mwembeshi reasonably suspected of proceeds of crime.
Kakumbi who is currently being sheltered at Lilayi Police College for fear of victimization by Mr. Liato’s family told a fully parked court room that he was not aware of any money buried at the Farm until a combined team of Police and DEC officers excavated the K2.1 billion.
Kakumbi who said he has known Mr. Liato for about ten years testified that he was present when security officers stormed the farm to conduct searches and the subsequent discovery of the K2.1 billion concealed in two black steel trunks in a small round house known as Shale.
The witness caused laughter in the court when he narrated how his wife fainted out of shock upon knowing that so much money was buried at the farm when her husband was being paid a low salary.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito requested that the trunks and safes containing the K2.1 billion be brought in the court room for the witness to identify them.
There was a heavy presence of police officers in full gear at the Magistrate court complex when trunks containing the money in question were brought before the court for identification by the witnessed.
The nervous looking Kakumbi identified the trunks and safes of money as being the ones he saw during the search exercise by a combined team of investigative officers on November 24, 2011.