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Zambian ex-first girl jailed on scams charges

Esther Lungu in private audience with Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) in the Private Library of the Apostolic Palace. Vatican City, 5th February 2016

Zambia’s previous First Girl Esther Lungu and her child Chiyeso Katete have actually been jailed over belongings of residential or commercial properties presumed to be earnings of criminal activity.

The 2 were jailed on Thursday in the capital, Lusaka, together with another close relative determined as Charles Phiri, authorities stated.

Ms Lungu “stopped working to offer a sensible description” of how she got a $30,000 (£24,000) estate in the capital, the state anti-drug firm stated.

Former President Edgar Lungu stated the household would challenge the charges in court.

The previous leader has actually been implicating the federal government of victimising him and members of his Patriotic Front (PF) celebration to obstruct his go back to politics ahead of 2026 elections.

He just recently declared to have actually been put under home arrest over his increased political activities although the federal government rejected it.

Last September, his partner was jailed over corruption claims, including cases of theft of automobile and title deeds, which she rejected.

On Thursday, Ms Lungu, 66, was jailed on suspicion of fraudulently getting a glamorous realty in Lusaka, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) stated in a declaration.

It stated Ms Lungu owned “15 white double floor flats” positioned in State Lodge location of Lusaka’s Chongwe town, “fairly presumed to be earnings of criminal activity”.

The precise date the home, owned collectively with other unidentified individuals, was obtained was unclear however the DEC stated it was purchased in between 2015 and 2023.

The DEC stated her child was confronted with surcharges of getting another 3 flats estate in Lusaka, presumed to have actually been purchased fraudulently.

“Even more, she was jailed for belongings of 1 high-cost home, 4 chicken runs, and associated external operate in the home,” the firm included.

They were all launched on bond, stated Mr Lungu, including that they were safe in the house after being questioned by DEC authorities for a number of hours on Thursday.

Another of Ms Lungu’s children, Tasila, is dealing with different however associated charges, according to the DEC.

She has actually been purchased, through her legal representatives, to appear at the DEC on Monday.

The implicated individuals did not discuss the claims however in a quick declaration, the previous president stated the household would challenge them in court.

It was not instantly clear if and when they will appear in court.

Mr Lungu revealed a return to politics last October, triggering the federal government to withdraw his retirement advantages.

He had actually retired from politics after losing the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021.

After 6 years in workplace, Mr Lungu left the southern African nation greatly in financial obligation and with a precarious economy.

Numerous previous ministers, federal government authorities and members of Mr Lungu’s household have actually been on the radar of Zambia’s investigative companies in an anti-corruption project released by President Hichilema.

Mr Hichilema has actually promised to recuperate all resources apparently robbed while Mr Lungu’s was in power.

Critics state the anti-corruption drive is politically inspired.

More Zambia stories from the BBC:

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