LUSAKA, (18 July 2023)— A State witness has told the Lusaka Magistrates Court that the hotel does not have any evidence of any criminal conduct by Amos Chanda, contradicting his own testimony on April 24 and 21 that he had secured evidence against the accused and gave it to the DEC.

This is a matter in which the DEC has alleged that between 12 May 2020 and 1 October 2022, Amos Chanda destroyed a court document, a charge Mr Chanda has vigorously denied.

Antony Mtonga told Lusaka Principal Resident Magistrate Irene Wishimanga that Amos Chanda didn’t commit any offence at the hotel on 30 September 2022 or any other times he has visited the hotel.

When the Magistrate visited the hotel in April, Mtonga explained that the footage that existed on the server was secure and incorruptible before it was auto-deleted 60 days afterwards.

And when he tendered the video footage before court today Mtonga said there is no where in the footage where Amos Chanda is committing an offence and that this same footage was delivered to him by the DEC only this morning yet he created it on 27 October 2022.

And he admitted that a copy of the same footage he submitted to the DEC was raw, not password-secured and therefore he can’t tell if any modifications were made to it since 27 October 2022 when handed over its custody.

He said from October last year, he was only given the flash disc this morning today, July 18 2023 and therefore he can’t tell if the same has been tampered with.

Answering a question as to who has edited the Benz car from the footage and super-imposed it with a Toyota Mark X, the witness said he does not know.

Asked by defence counsel Timmy Munalula to confirm that his testimony was repeatedly that Mr Chanda arrived in a black Mercedes Benz, the State witness replied in the affirmative but admitted that the car in the footage he had shown the court was a Toyota Mark X.

“Witness, confirm that whatever you are telling this court is the truth, the whole truth,” asked another defence counsel Bervan Mengo to which the witness said he was telling the truth.

Confirm that what you saw in the footage that you recorded and presented before this court is a Benz,”, lawyers asked to which the witness said yes.

Lawyers then asked the witness to play back the video footage and pause it where Mr Chanda was leaving the hotel. When he was asked to identify the car in the footage, the State witness and it was a Mark X and not a Benz.

“Who removed the Benz from the footage and introduced Mark X?”

“Your worship I don’t know,” Mtonga said.

PW5 Mtonga also contradicted PW1 Jones Siansamba of the DEC who alleged on oath before court that Amos Chanda was wearing a cap, a green t-shirt and blue jeans.

“No your worship he was not wearing a cap and he was not wearing a green t-shirt. He was wearing khakis bothup and bottom.”

Mtonga also said contrary to Siansamba’s evidence that there was a live band at Sarovar hotel, there was none and that was why it was not showing in the video footage.

“There was no live band and we don’t have a live band at all at the hotel.”

He also told the court that it was against hotel policy to record guests and give footage to third parties as the hotel did in the case of Mr Chanda.

Mtonga also said he does not know what charge Amos Chanda was facing before and that even if he is shown the indictment, he does not wish to know.

Buy you came here to collaborate the evidence of the DEC senior investigations officer Jones Siasamba right? asked defence counsel Mengo, to which he answered n the affirmative.

He was again asked to state what crime Chanda committed to which he responded that the accused never committed any offence at Sarovar hotel.

He said Mr Chanda did not carry any documents in his hands when arrived at hotel and neither did he burn anything.

And there was roaring laughter in court when the Magistrate guided defence counsel Timmy Munalula to ensure the witness was not answering with a vernacular mindset to say “yes” when he meant “no!”

This followed a response to the question: witness you can confirm Mr Chanda didn’t commit any offence, to which Mtonga replied “yes.”

Well guided your worship, and that has made my day, the lawyer said before rephrasing the question to say: did Mr Chanda commit any offence, to which the witness said “No.”

The witness also said his cameras can’t show whether Mr Chanda sat on table 22 or 24 because the cameras have been adjusted not to capture the full image of people on the poolside deck.

On April 21 2023, Mtonga told the court that the hotel has 120 CCTV cameras which it uses to record videos of guests and surrender footage to third parties on request.

But today he said it was against hotel policy to surrender footage of guests to third parties as they did against Amos Chanda.

He said the cameras cover the entire premises of the five-star boutique hotel including the basement carparks, lifts, spa, bar, receptions, hallways, restaurants and the upper rooms.

Mtonga said three DEC officers led by arresting officer Boyd Munalula ordered him to extract footage and give it to them and that the hotel general manager instructed him to handover “any footage from any of the hotel’s rooms” of interest to the DEC.

At the opening of the trial on 22 February 2023, DEC senior investigations officer, Jones Siansamba, told the court that he did not investigate anything about the purported missing court record because he was only concerned with the alleged recording he purportedly made on Amos Chanda at a noisy open-air poolside bar at Sarova Hotel where live band was playing on 30 September 2023.

But Siasamba said he did not have the technical voice analysis report to affirm with certainty that the alleged audio was indeed of Mr Chanda. He claimed he made the recording between 21 and 23 hours in the night.

But on 19 April 2023, an expert State witness from ZICTA told the same court that his analysis of the recording device DEC submitted to him for processing showed that the recording was created at 02:55 am in the early hours of 30 September 2022, long before Mr Chanda arrived at the hotel around 21 hours in the night.

Jeff Sitali (38), the ZICTA manager for cyber security and specialist consumer education told the court that digital forensics Investigations established that the device DEC gave him for processing contained recordings done on 30 September 2022 at 02:55:17 am, in the morning and not at 22:00 pm as stated by Siansamba.

Sitali said the court must believe him because his report was an expert analysis pooled and drawn using “incorruptible” operating systems. He also said he cannot tell the actual source of the recording.

Another state witness, James Habasimbi, (33) told the court he was just hotel waiter whose job was to serve clients but was instructed by “two outsiders” to implicate Amos Chanda.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here