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Independent AfricaFormer Zambian First Lady apprehended for alleged fraud offenses

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Former Zambian First Lady apprehended for alleged fraud offenses

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Former Zambian First Lady Esther Lungu and her daughter Chiyeso Katete, along with a close relative Charles Phiri, were apprehended in Lusaka on Thursday for suspected possession of properties believed to be acquired through illegal means.

According to authorities, Ms. Lungu failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the acquisition of a $1.5 million estate in the capital.

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Former President Edgar Lungu vowed to challenge the charges in court, alleging government victimization as he prepares for the 2026 elections.

This arrest follows previous allegations against Ms. Lungu last September regarding corruption charges, including theft of motor vehicles and title deeds, which she denied.

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It said Ms Lungu owned “15 white double storey flats” situated in State Lodge area of Lusaka’s Chongwe town, “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime”.

The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) stated that the precise acquisition date of the property, jointly owned with undisclosed individuals, remained unclear but was purchased between 2015 and 2023.

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Additionally, the DEC noted that her daughter faced further allegations concerning the acquisition of an additional three-flat estate in Lusaka, suspected to have been obtained through fraudulent means.

“Further, she was arrested for possession of 1 high-cost house, four chicken runs, and associated external works in the property,” the agency added.

Mr. Lungu disclosed that they were all released on bond and assured that they were safe at home following hours of questioning by DEC officials on Thursday.

Separately, another daughter of Ms. Lungu, Tasila, is facing related charges, as per the DEC’s announcement.

She has been summoned to appear at the DEC on Monday, as directed by her legal representatives.

While the accused individuals refrained from commenting on the allegations, the former president issued a brief statement asserting that the family would contest them in court.

However, it remains uncertain when or if they will appear in court.

Mr. Lungu declared his return to politics in October last year, prompting the government to revoke his retirement benefits.

Having stepped down from office after losing the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021, Mr. Lungu left Zambia grappling with substantial debt and a fragile economy.

Zambia’s investigative agencies have scrutinized several former ministers, government officials, and members of Mr. Lungu’s family as part of President Hichilema’s anti-corruption initiative.

President Hichilema has pledged to reclaim all allegedly misappropriated resources during Mr. Lungu’s tenure.

Critics argue that the anti-corruption campaign is politically motivated.

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