Saturday, April 07, 2007

Samukonga clobbered, arrested over fuel bill

Samukonga clobbered, arrested over fuel bill
By George Chellah
Saturday April 07, 2007 [04:00]

IRATE motorists on Thursday evening clobbered former commerce deputy minister Geoffrey Samukonga when he attempted to bolt after failing to pay a K100,000 fuel bill at Chelstone BP filling station before the police arrested and detained him at Benny Mwiinga police post.

Narrating the incident, Musa Phiri, a fuel attendant explained that Samukonga who was driving a gold Mercedes Benz registration number ABA 2003 arrived at the filling station around 19:10 hours.

"He told us to put in fuel for K100,000 but after putting the fuel I went to him to collect money. That's when he told me that he didn't have money and requested if he could be allowed to go and come back later," Phiri said.

"But we told him that he needed to leave a surety of at least a cell phone or a spare wheel for his car. He was undecided that's when I called my fellow attendants so that we can come up with a solution."

He explained that at that point, Samukonga decided to drive off.

"He started driving off, that's when my friend Peter threw himself into the Benz through the window because we just couldn't let him go without paying. What could we have told our boss if he had gone?" Phiri asked. "But he continued driving and we only saw Peter's legs dangling though the window of his vehicle. He later stopped because my friend managed to get inside the car."

Another fuel attendant, Dason Musukuma narrated that he pulled the keys from Samukonga's vehicle.

"Just after he stopped the vehicle and Peter was already inside I rushed there and grabbed the keys from the ignition. That's how I came back," he said.
He narrated that by this time, a number of clients and onlookers had surrounded the vehicle.

"That's when he came out and started boasting and insulting everyone around. He started saying that, 'I am a former minister so what can you tell me?' He even became violent," Musukuma explained. "So other customers became upset and begun slapping him. They were telling him that, 'you are stupid you have delayed us and you are insulting us'. Some people were even telling him that 'if you are a former minister you should know how to behave'.

"They also started telling him that 'how can you fail to pay a K100,000 whilst driving such a vehicle'. Others where also saying that 'you are foolish you have eaten our money'. After beating him, he started crying complaining that 'how could you do this to me'."
Musukuma said Samukonga was later picked up by police officers from Chelstone police station.

"They came here during the same confusion and picked him together with my workmate Peter," he said.

Samukonga was found resting on the bonnet of his Benz when The Post arrived at Chelstone police station around 20:00 hours.

He was later whisked into one of the offices at the police station amidst protests from him.

"They have beaten me! And you are just looking at me? Can you go and arrest those people!" shouted Samukonga.

Whilst in the office with the officer in-charge Petronella Kasonde, Samukonga was advised by Kasonde to behave properly in public.

"You made a mistake Mr. Samukonga. You are a grown up person and a respectable person for that matter. You should know how to behave. Assist this boy to earn a living.
You didn't pay, it was somebody else who paid for you," Kasonde said. "There were some reporters there and don't be surprised if you find yourself in the newspapers."
But Samukonga chipped in and began threatening Kasonde that he had already spoken to the Inspector General of police over the matter.

"You have communicated to the IG yourself. Fine, I am going to tell the IG that you wanted to run away. I will even put you in custody if you continue making noise here," Kasonde warned. "I will put you in custody, this is a clear case."

Samukonga responded: "And I will sue you if you put me in custody."
Kasonde urged Samukonga to be sympathetic with the fuel attendant.
"You made a mistake Mr. Samukonga, just admit. Please assist this boy protect his job. It's very bad."

"I am sorry madam," Samukonga replied.
But when asked for his statement, Samukonga changed and began shouting at the police officers.

"What have I done? Don't abuse your authority, which we have given you people. I was a member of parliament and we enacted the laws to give you that authority you are now abusing," Samukonga charged. "I am a millionaire myself. Can I fail to pay K100,000? I drive the most expensive vehicle in the world and in Zambia and it's parked outside you have seen it. Can I fail to pay for fuel?"

This prompted Kasonde to say: "Millionaire wakuti wakangiwa kulipila K100 pin (which millionaire are you when you have failed to pay a K100,000?)."

But Samukonga also answered: "You are very rude. If you are clever let's end this thing amicably because if you push your luck too far you will have yourselves to blame, I am telling you. I will sue you big time and all your tuma benefits will come to me in terms of legal costs. You will find it very hard to defend this in court."

However, Samukonga eventually gave his statement at about 21:00 hours.
In his statement Samukonga stated: "I have committed no offence because I have paid for the fuel. I have been beaten and assaulted and they have stolen my computer phone and I am the first complainant in this matter."

Samukonga was still at Chelstone police station as late as 22:00 hours before the officer in-charge ordered this reporter to leave the premises.

"You people what you are doing is bad. How do you hide there listening to what we are discussing in the office? Did you get permission from me to do that? I am the officer in-charge here you leave now," Kasonde ordered the reporter.
"Everything has finished, so you leave now."

But police source revealed that Samukonga was formally charged and arrested around midnight.

"He was charged with an offence of obtaining pecuniary advantage... just because he was somebody he thought he could use that. So he was charged with the above offence because the police felt he was taking advantage of that previous status as deputy minister," the source disclosed. "He was even detained at Benny Mwiinga police post close to midnight."

Samukonga was released around 09:00 hours on Friday.
And police spokesperson Bonny Kapeso who could neither deny nor confirm the matter, said he needed to contact Lusaka division commanding officer Wazakaza Ng'uni over the matter.

"I am sure if he failed to pay for fuel they (police) sorted it out by just telling him to pay. Surely you can't get fuel for free at the station, they sell and people pay," Kapeso said. "If they got him probably they were just protecting him from further harassment and beatings from the public. But I will find out from Mr. Ng'uni."

Lubinda challenges Mwaanga to give satisfactory explanation
By Noel Sichalwe
Saturday April 07, 2007 [04:00]

KABWATA Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Given Lubinda has challenged information minister Vernon Mwaanga to give a satisfactory explanation of the contradictory statement to the DRC media last week.

Lubinda was commenting on information minister Vernon Mwaanga's statement that his remarks in the DRC that the Zambian government owes Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi US$7 million for the maize he supplied a few years ago were distorted.
Mwaanga claimed in Parliament on Wednesday that his statement could have been
distorted when being translated from English to French or vice versa.

He even produced a transcript of the questions the press asked him and the answers he gave in English.

However, Lubinda said Mwaanga should explain how he got hold of a transcript of the interview, particularly a translated version given his argument that the Post story became incorrect based on the translation.

He said many people have been interviewed before and never had access to transcripts after the interview and wondered how it was possible for Mwaanga to get one in a foreign country.

Lubinda said in the transcript for the interview, there was no mention of whether or not he met with Katumbi.

He said Mwaanga who has vast experience in diplomatic issues should have known that as a special envoy, he was not supposed to address the press on any issue.

"How come in this matter, VJ went against diplomatic ethics?" Lubinda asked.
Lubinda said Mwaanga had read the story in the morning but waited until 15:30 hours when a point of order was raised in Parliament to make an explanation.

"He has been known to be very reactive to issues against the state and government," he said. "He controls the government media, why didn't VJ immediately he read the story go to Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation to disclaim the story? Had no one raised a point of order, how could he have used the transcript? There is more than meets the eye. These are matters where the Drug Enforcement Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission should take particular interest."

Lubinda said this was a serious matter that threatened the physical and economic security of the country.

He said Mwaanga might have been lucky that the issue came when Parliament was going on recess but that he should be ready to make further explanations when the House resumes.

He said this could be a well-orchestrated agenda to discredit The Post story and that some people might be trying to use the story on the current debate of media ethics.


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