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Former Zambia President Lungu's Son, Daughter-in-Law Arrested, Charged

FILE: Representative illustration of police handcuffs and jail cell bars. Dalitso Lungo and wife Matildah were released on bail after being taken into custody. Photo August 2, 2017.

LUSAKA — Authorities in Zambia have arrested former President Edgar Lungu's son and daughter-in-law on charges of money laundering and possessing property believed to be proceeds of crime worth more than $5 million.

Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga told VOA on Tuesday that Dalitso Lungu and his wife, Matildah, have been arrested in their capacity as directors of Saloid Traders Limited.

Hamoonga said they are accused of owning 69 motor vehicles and other properties believed to have been the proceeds of crime. Lungu and his wife were both released from police custody to appear in court soon, he added.

The arrests come a week after Zambian authorities announced the seizure of some 20 properties linked to Dalitso, former President Lungu’s wife, Esther, and his daughter, Tasila.

Brian Mundubile, one of the lawyers for Dalitso and his wife, confirmed the arrests and charges.

Mundubile also confirmed Tuesday on WhatsApp to VOA that his clients have since been released on bail pending a court appearance soon. He added that the Lungu's should be accorded the dignity of their status as the former first family.

Mundubile described his clients' arrests as unnecessary actions meant to harass them. He said the government must be clear about their intentions regarding the family instead of embarrassing them. Mundubile notes that the arrests have caused pain and anger to the Lungu family and does not think this is the way for the state to go.

The Zambian president of anti-corruption group Transparency International, Sampa Kalunga, says his organization has been following with keen interest cases that have to do with corruption — especially cases involving the Lungu family and former officials in Lungu‘s government.

He adds that law enforcement needs to follow through on the cases to the end.

"As much as we applaud this, but (at) the same time, we would like to make a caution to the law enforcement agencies that they do a good job on investigations on gathering evidence so that we do not see cases which only end up at either seizing properties or being withdrawn by the courts," he said.

The acting president of Lungu’s Patriotic Front Party, Given Lubinda, addressed party members in Lusaka on Tuesday and advised them to brace for more arrests of Patriotic Front Party members.

He accused authorities of only focusing on PF members in their fight against corruption.

"We have a team of lawyers who are ready to defend us. There are even other lawyers who are coming on board to come and join the team of our lawyers to defend you, so don’t be cowed. Continue to organize," Lubinda said.

Current President Hakainde Hichilema has said multiple times that the fight against corruption is not aimed at political opponents but is meant to protect the country’s public funds.