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Court Rules in Favour of Director of Public Prosecutions in Forfeiture Case Involving Former First Lady’s Properties


In a notable legal development, a panel of three court of appeal judges comprising of the judge president and vice president have ruled in favour of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in a Non-Conviction Based Forfeiture case concerning properties linked to former First Lady Esther Nyawa Tembo Lungu. The DPP had filed an application seeking forfeiture of Property Number 9334/1, 9334/2, 9334/3, and 9334/4, comprising 15 Double Storey Flats in State Lodge, through a non-conviction-based process.

The legal proceedings commenced on June 13, 2023, and were marked by legal complexities, including challenges related to jurisdiction and evidence compliance. Esther Nyawa Tembo Lungu, the interested party in this case, sought to halt the proceedings in the lower Court pending an appeal. However, the Court, after thorough deliberation, declined the application for a stay of proceedings.

The Court’s decision centred on several key factors. Firstly, it emphasised the absence of exceptional circumstances warranting a stay of proceedings. Secondly, the Court carefully assessed the prospects of success in the pending appeal, finding insufficient grounds to justify halting the ongoing proceedings.

Furthermore, the Court provided valuable guidance to trial courts and tribunals, emphasising the importance of expeditious legal proceedings and discouraging unnecessary interlocutory applications that hinder the timely delivery of justice. The Court’s stance serves as a directive to maintain judicial efficiency while upholding fairness and transparency in legal processes.

“In conclusion, we wish to highlight a few things in relation to this renewed application for an order to stay the proceedings in the Court below pending the determination of the appeal before the Court,” the Court stated. “We have noted from the record that almost a year since the matter was commenced in the High Court; the matter has been bogged down by numerous interlocutory applications.”

The Court expressed concern over applications that delay the determination of main issues and obstruct the principle of timely justice delivery. Consequently, the Court dismissed the application for a stay of proceedings, urging parties to present appeals and stay applications simultaneously to streamline the legal process effectively.

This ruling marks a significant milestone in the ongoing legal saga, signaling the Court’s adherence to legal principles and its commitment to ensuring fair and transparent legal processes, particularly in matters involving substantial assets.

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The National Prosecution Authority is a statutory body established by the National Prosecution Authority act No. 34 of 2010 with a mandate of instituting criminal proceedings on behalf of the state.

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