Prosecution and defence lawyers have both expressed reservations with the two year jail term which Nsanje Principal Magistrate’s Court handed on Tuesday to Eric Aniva for having sex with women and girls in Nsanje in sexual cleansing rituals.
Aniva, who confessed to both local and international media to be HIV positive, was last week found guilty of two counts of attempting to engage in harmful cultural practices and engaging in harmful practices in contravention of Section 5 of the Gender Equality Act of 2015.
Aniva’s lawyer, Michael Goba Chipeta, described both the conviction and the sentence as erroneous and hinted that his client would appeal.
On the other hand, state prosecutor Christopher Bottoman said the state was not satisfied with the sentence which he described as too lenient.
Principal Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi, sitting in Nsanje, passed the sentence in a case which has attracted the attention of international media, notably the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to which Aniva made the confession.
The magistrate told the court that the sentence was made in considerations that Aniva is the first offender and HIV positive.
However, Nebi observed that Aniva showed no remorse during the entire trial, hence the court’s decision to take a tough stance to deter would be offenders.
“Such culture has no basis in the current constitution. Therefore, giving him a fine or suspended sentence would be a mockery to justice. As such, the court has sentenced you to 24 months for the first count of engaging in harmful practices and 10 months on second count, that of attempting to engage in harmful cultural practices. These sentences are supposed to be served concurrently with effect from the day you were arrested,” Nebi said.
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