ATTORNEY General Mumba Malila says police seized over 80 MMD vehicles because they were procured using public funds.

In an answer to a petition by the MMD who are challenging the seizure of 101 vehicles by the police, Attorney General Malila said the only vehicles that were in the custody of the police and those about to be taken into custody were those procured using public funds.

He said the police's seizure of the motor vehicles, in issue, was legally justified and supported by the unambiguous Constitution of Zambia.

Malila stated that police have instituted investigations to establish among other things, into the alleged use of public funds or the acquisition by the MMD of about 176 motor vehicles which include all those listed in the petition.

"The respondent further avers that the Zambia Police Force has so far taken custody of 84 motor vehicles into custody for investigations and that apart from the MMD that is claiming ownership of the vehicles in issue, a named company and some individuals from whom the vehicles have been recovered are also claiming ownership," said Malila.

"Consequently, true ownership of the motor vehicles is yet to be established."

He also said the MMD would be put to strict proof of the claim that the petitioner is the owner of the vehicles as claimed in the statement of claim.

Malila further stated that investigations carried out so far had revealed that the vehicles in question were imported, cleared and registered under very unclear circumstances.

He said there was reason for the investigators to suspect that duty was not paid on the vehicles in issue.

"...That it is necessary and legally justified for the Zambia Police Force to continue keeping the vehicles in its custody until the on-going investigations mentioned are concluded," said Malila. "The respondent denies that the vehicles were in danger of being vandalised as alleged."

He further stated that it was not clear who the petitioner was between Major Richard Kachingwe and the MMD.

He added that the state was not aware of the petitioner's claim that MMD members' homes were being subjected to illegal searches saying the petitioner would be put to strict test to prove that allegation.

In this case, the MMD through its national secretary Major Richard Kachingwe has lamented that its 101 vehicles have been indiscriminately targeted by Patriotic Front (PF) members and the Zambia Police Force.

This is according to a petition filed in the Lusaka High Court by Maj Kachingwe.

Maj Kachingwe has alleged that private resources and donations to the party were used to purchase the seized vehicles.

He accused the police of having objected to release the vehicles.

Maj Kachingwe claimed that the police had no legal cause to continue keeping the vehicles in question.

He also stated that he had not been informed of the charges pertaining to the seized vehicles.

Maj Kachingwe added that the homes and offices of MMD members and officials have been subjected to illegal search contrary to article 17 of the constitution.

Lusaka High Court judge Annie Sitali has since set February 20, 2012 as the date for commencement of trial in the matter.