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Two women grow cold feet? -deny charge after earlier admitting stealing K195,000 from now dead aunt

CHARLES MUSONDA writes                                                    

TWO young women have backtracked on their earlier admission of stealing K195,000 from one of the accused persons’ aunt who later died of suspected depression after discovering the theft.

The accused persons identified as Matildah Katungu, 22, a student, and Fridah Tembo, 20, a personnel assistant, have now reverted to their initial plea of not guilty to 20 counts of forgery and uttering false withdrawal slips to tellers at Atlasmara Bank Long Acres branch; and one count of stealing K195,000 cash belonging to Tembo’s aunt Helen Nalwimba.

Particulars of offence are that between May 8, 2018 and October 12, 2018, Katungu and Tembo jointly and whilst acting together with other unknown persons, knowingly and fraudulently forged Atlasmara Bank cash withdrawal slips and uttered them to tellers at the bank’s Long Acres branch on 10 occasions.

They are accused of forging the slips in Ms. Nalwimba’s names purporting to show that they were genuinely filled in and signed by her when in fact not.

Katungu and Tembo were arrested on October 22, 2018 but before trial could commence early this year, Ms. Nalwimba died of suspected depression after discovering that of the money from her late husband’s benefits, K195, 000 had been withdrawn without her knowledge or consent.

According to some close sources, Ms. Nalwimba had entrusted Tembo with her bank errands before discovering that K195, 000 was missing from her bank account after being withdrawn fraudulently.

When trial commenced early this year, Katungu and Tembo denied all the charges but after two prosecution witnesses testified, the two accused persons applied to Lusaka Magistrate Rachel Mwansa Statachi to change their plea to admission of guilt, after which the case was adjourned for written facts and possible sentencing.

But shortly before a public prosecutor could read out the facts to the court a few days ago, Katungu and Tembo again applied to the court to take fresh plea and when the application was granted, they again denied all the charges.

The court has since set May 31, 2019 as the date for reopening of trial.

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