Lusaka — Authorities in Zambia have arrested former President Edgar Lungu’s son and daughter-in-law on charges of money laundering and possessing property believed to be proceeds of crime worth more than $5 million. Lungu’s Patriotic Front Party has described the move as continued persecution of Lungu’s family by the government.
Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga told VOA on Tuesday that Dalitso Lungu and his wife, Matildah, have been arrested in their capacity as directors of Saloid Traders Limited.
He said they are accused of owning 69 motor vehicles and other properties believed to have been proceeds of crime.
Hamoonga outlined the charges.
“Police have arrested and charged Dalitso, aged 36, and Matilda Likando Milinga, aged 36, for the offense of possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime, contrary to Section 71 of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act of 2010. Dalitso Lungu has also been arrested and charged for the offense of money laundering. The duo has since been released from police custody and will appear in court soon,” said Hamoonga.
The arrests come a week after Zambian authorities announced the seizure of some 20 properties linked to Dalitso, former President Lungu’s wife, Esther, and daughter Tasila.
Brian Mundubile, one of the lawyers for Dalitso and his wife, confirmed the arrests and charges.
Mundubile also confirmed Tuesday on WhatsApp to VOA that his clients have since been released on bail pending a court appearance soon.
He added that the Lungus should be accorded the dignity of their status as the former first family.
Mundubile described his clients’ arrests as unnecessary actions meant to harass them. He said the government must be clear about their intentions regarding the family instead of embarrassing them. Mundubile notes that the arrests have caused pain and anger to the Lungu family and does not think this is the way for the state to go.
The Zambian president of anti-corruption group Transparency International, Sampa Kalunga, says his organization has been following with keen interest cases that have to do with corruption — especially cases involving the Lungu family and former officials in Lungu’s government.
He adds that law enforcement needs to follow through on the cases to the end.
“As much as we applaud this, but [at] the same time, we would like to make a caution to the law enforcement agencies that they do a good job on investigations on gathering evidence so that we do not see cases which only end up at either seizing properties or being withdrawn by the courts,” said Kalunga.
The acting president of Lungu’s Patriotic Front Party, Given Lubinda, addressed party members in Lusaka on Tuesday and advised them to brace for more arrests of Patriotic Front Party members.
He accused authorities of only focusing on PF members in their fight against corruption.
“We have a team of lawyers who are ready to defend us. There are even other lawyers who are coming on board to come and join the team of our lawyers to defend you, so don’t be cowed. Continue to organize. Continue to mobilize the party. Don’t be scared. Zambia is for us all,” said Lubinda.
Current President Hakainde Hichilema has said multiple times that the fight against corruption is not aimed at political opponents but is meant to protect the country’s public funds.