An interesting development occurred earlier this month when the courts concluded that the highly publicised scandal was not a criminal scandal. After another expensive investigation and prosecution that lasted three years, the Courts concluded that the Kapoko scandal, which damaged Zambia's international reputation, was not a criminal scandal after all.
Henry Kapoko and eight others were acquitted by the Magistrate Court for theft and money laundering involving K1.9 billion. The court also acquitted Mr Kapoko and a lodge manager of issuing cheques on an insufficiently-funded account. The acquittal brought to an end a 3 year court process during which time the accused lost their jobs and had property seized. Magistrate Kenneth Mulife said the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
There are still no indications on whether the State will appeal. One wonders whether this whole process has cost the nation more than the amount allegedly stolen by Kapoko. Sadly nearly a month down the line, the important questions are still not being asked by the media and general public. the trial is already being forgetten! But questions must be asked : was the prosecution politically motivated? Were the prosecutors incompetent? Why do these cases take so long to prosecute? And where does this leave the state of prosecutions in Zambia? Where does it leave public confidence in our judicial system? What should be done to ensure this never happens again? And why did Zambia pay back the money? Was money really lost, and if was, how was it lost in the first place?
The failure to bring about the conviction follows a long list of incompetence by Zambian high profile prosecution failures. It appears Government prosecution team is in dire need of revitalisation. There are also broader questions about whether we need to reform how the Courts deal with corruption cases.