M’membe in copper theft scandal

Police in Solwezi have impounded two Post Newspapers Courier trucks belonging to Fred M’membe carrying multi-million kwacha worth of copper believed to have been stolen or originating from one of the illegal mines belonging to a Chinese national.

And North Western Province Police Commissioner Eugene Sibote when contacted to confirm the matter said he would only be able to give a comprehensive statement on the matter today.

When asked about the status of the two impounded Post Newspapers trucks, Mr Sibote responded: “Someone from your newspaper called me earlier and I told him that I will talk to you tomorrow (today). Why are you in a hurry? I said I will talk to you tomorrow,” Mr Sibote said.

An on the spot check by a Daily Nation reporter in Solwezi found the trucks branded Post Newspapers Courier parked at Solwezi Police station laden with copper.

Investigations by the police are reported to have centered on the discrepancy between the declared weight and the actual weight of the copper giving rise to the suspicion that the balance could have been stolen.

The police are also suspicious that the copper could have been illegally procured from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  and transported into Zambia through Kipushi where the border  is porous compared to Kasumbalesa where the border is heavily manned and trucks have to go through the scanners which will detect and identify contraband,

The police are not sure and are investigating if the heavy trucks could have gone to Congo through illicit routes or if smaller vehicles could have transported the copper which was later aggregated into Zambia for onward transportation for export.

The suspected stolen copper was destined for export as Post Courier now enjoys lucrative export transportation business awarded by the PF government.

The two Post Courier trucks were impounded following a tip off from members of the public who noticed the trucks laden with copper suspected to have been stolen and destined for one of the borders enroute for export to some an unknown destination.

The two trucks registration numbers AJC 66100 for the horse and AJC 6563T trailer and another with registration number ALF 59620 whose trailer number is ALF81690T were impounded on Thursday last week and Mr M’membe is said to have been struggling to have the trucks released since then.

Mr M’membe, owner of the Post Newspapers went into the trucking business soon after the Patriotic Front (PF) formed government and has reportedly had many lucrative government contracts awarded to him.

Officers at the station confirmed that Mr M’membe, together with Post Ombudsman Sheik Chifuwe, had travelled to Solwezi to demand for the release of the two trucks but the police had maintained that the trucks should remain impounded until investigations on the origins of the copper was established.