26 February 2013

Zambia: Sinking Boreholes At Liato's Farm Shocks Witness

A WITNESS has told a Lusaka magistrate's court that he was shocked to discover that two boreholes were sunk at the farm belonging to former Labour minister Austin Liato in Mwembeshi instead of Kaoma as per instructions to the installation crew.

Geo-Tech Limited director Frank Nkulukusa told Lusaka resident magistrate David Simusamba yesterday that he was surprised when he read through a report presented to him by a crew he had assigned to drill boreholes in Kaoma, Western Province that the same was done in Mwembeshi.

This is in a matter in which the former Kaoma Central member of Parliament Liato is facing two counts of theft by public servant.

Liato, 46, on or about June 8, 2010, being minister of Labour, did abuse authority of his office by facilitating the sinking of two boreholes at his farm in Mwembeshi, thereby obtaining property or advantage or profits to himself, an act that was prejudicial.

In the second count, between May 14, 2010 and May 19, 2010 Liato did abuse the authority of office by facilitating the diversion of two hammermills meant for the people of Kaoma District.

Mr Nkulukusa told the court that on June 7, 2010 he was called by his late boss, Raghu Konouh who showed him a letter from Zambezi drilling requesting Geo-Tech to sink two boreholes in Kaoma on exchange basis.

He said he was also instructed by his boss to prepare a rig and crew that would go to Kaoma to sink the boreholes.

He said he was told to contact Liato after he had prepared everything and that the person who was supposed to accompany the crew to the site was to be found near West Wood police post in Lusaka West.

Mr Nkulukusa said after two days, the crew returned and presented to him two completion reports on the sinking of the boreholes.

Upon reading through the report, he discovered that the boreholes were not sunk in Kaoma as per letter of instruction but in Mwembeshi.

He contacted Zambezi operations manager a Mr Felix Mukuka who assured him that he would make a follow-up and he also took the same report to Mr Konouh but he told him to leave the matter with him.

Mr Nkulukusa said during cross-examination by defence lawyers that there were certain things that were happening in the company which would not come to his attention as clients would deal directly with his boss.

He said he would equally not know whether Liato had paid for the sinking of the two boreholes to Mr Konouh.

Zambezi Drilling manager Kennedy Chunga told the court that he, also in June 2010, received instructions from his boss Mr Mukuka requesting him to write a letter to Geo-Tech Limited requesting them to drill two boreholes on their behalf in Kaoma on exchange basis.

Mr Chunga said he wrote the letter which was sent to Geo-Tech according to instructions by his boss.

He, however, told the court that he signed the same letter without reading its content.

Trial continues on Thursday.

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