Court convicts Area 24 women
The Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe has convicted three women from Lilongwe’s Area 24 on charges of assault occasioning bodily harm and insulting the modesty of a woman.
Flora Chinguwo, Norah Chatsika and Gertrude Banda were answering the two charges after attacking Bridget Kumchulesi.
Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha convicted the three after they changed the initial plea of “not guilty” to “guilty”.
After the conviction, Zangazanga told the court that, although the convicts were first offenders, there were aggravating factors, one of which being the seriousness of the offence, which could attract a possible life sentence.
She also highlighted the psychological impact the assault had on Kumchulesi, as well as the fact that the commission of the offence was done by a group.
“The three planned the offence well when they called the woman and beat her up,” Zangazanga said.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) lawyer, Peter Mota said since it is a criminal matter, all factors had to be considered.
“From the evidence we have, human rights were violated. The evidence shows that the convicts took the law in their hands. When the court is coming up with the sentence, public interest must be considered. Those who violate the rights of others should account for their actions and face consequences,” he said.
But the convicts’ lawyer, Oscar Taulo, said it was surprising that the State was talking about public interest only on sentencing, and said nothing about it when the three were applying for bail.
He, however, appealed to the court to be lenient when meting out sentences.
“The convicts admitted the charge in police and pleaded guilty on time. They also are young mothers and have young children,” Taulo said.
He, therefore, appealed for a non-custodial sentence, stressing that custodial sentences go to the worst offenders.
The court is expected to sentence the three this afternoon.
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