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Former Zambian first lady Esther Lungu arrested over reported car theft

By Winnie Mabel September 6th, 2023 2 min read

Zambia’s former first lady, Mrs Esther Lungu, the wife of former president Edgar Lungu, was arrested on September 6, 2023, and charged with three counts of theft of a motor vehicle and title of property.

She was arrested days after police issued a call-out notice on September 4, 2023, demanding that she present herself to the police by 10 am for the purpose of interviews.

According to Mwebantu, a Zambian media house, Mrs Lungu was charged alongside James Phiri aged 49, Lee Chisulo aged 31, Kapambwe Lungu aged 42, and Catherine Banda aged 30.

Deputy Police Spokesperson Danny Mwale confirmed the arrest to the media.

“Police have jointly formally charged and arrested the former First Lady Esther Lungu aged 66, James Phiri aged 49, Lee Chisulo aged 31, Kapambwe Lungu aged 42 and Catherine Banda aged 30 all of Lusaka for three counts of Theft of Motor vehicle contrary to section 281(a) (2) of chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. The suspects have also been charged and arrested with one count of Theft of a Certificate of Title for a property sitting on stand number S/Lusaka/SLN 0003/2977 in Libala South,” said Mr Mwale.

According to prior Nairobi News reports, the home of former president Lungu was raided by heavily armed police in May 2023 amid claims of vehicle theft by his wife. The police said they had received a report of the theft of three vehicles- a Mitsubishi truck and two small Toyota sedans- and managed to locate them at Mrs Lungu’s house in upmarket Lusaka.

The raid and the presence of a contingent of law enforcement officers from different services drew international attention as a standoff initially ensued outside the Lungu residence. However, the Lungu family claimed they were in possession of the vehicles in lieu of hundreds of thousands of dollars she had given her niece after her husband’s work contract ended.

The Patriotic Front Party decried the police behavior, saying it was unconstitutional and criminal to go after someone with presidential immunity the way they did.

10 months prior, Mrs Lungu had also been summoned by Zambia’s anti-money laundering agency to shed light over her ownership of 15 luxury flats in Lusaka which they believed were bought with ill gains.

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