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Former Zambian First Lady and Daughter Arrested on Fraud Charges

The state's anti-drug agency reported that Esther Lungu could not adequately explain how she acquired a $1.5 million estate in Lusaka

Zambia’s former First Lady, Esther Lungu, and her daughter, Chiyeso Katete, on Thursday, were arrested in the country’s capital Lusaka for allegedly possessing properties considered proceeds of crime. They were detained along with a relative, Charles Phiri, according to officials.

The state’s anti-drug agency reported that Esther Lungu could not adequately explain how she acquired a $1.5 million estate in Lusaka.

Authorities said the luxury property which consisted of 15 white double-storey flats was suspected to have been bought with illicit funds between 2015 and 2023. Her daughter faced additional accusations of acquiring another three-flat estate in Lusaka and possessing a high-cost house and several chicken runs.

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Her husband, former President Edgar Lungu, declared the family would contest the charges in court, accusing the government of using these allegations to obstruct his return to politics before the 2026 elections. He also claimed to have been placed under house arrest due to his political activities, which the government denied.

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All arrested individuals were released on bond after being questioned by Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) officials. Another daughter, Tasila Lungu, faces related charges and is scheduled to appear before the DEC.

Former President Lungu, who lost the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021 and subsequently retired from politics, announced his political comeback last October, leading to the government suspending his retirement benefits.

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His tenure left Zambia with significant debt and a troubled economy, prompting President Hichilema to launch an anti-corruption campaign targeting former officials and Lungu’s family. Lungu has argued that this campaign is politically driven.

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