Rumphi First Grade Magistrate’s Court has sentenced CCAP Synod of Livingstonia cleric Reverend Chiwawa Banda to 14 years imprisonment for defiling a 13- year-old girl (name shielded for legal reasons.) last year.
The girl claimed the 42-year-old Reverend Banda of Chiswamapira Village Traditional Authority Kabunduli in Nkhatabay but based at Luzi in Rumphi, sexually assaulted her three times.
The cleric had also bought a mobile phone for the girl so that he could have more contact with her on Whatsapp.
The police charged him with the offence of defilement of a girl under the age of 16 contrary to section 138 (1) of the Penal Code.
State prosecutor Inspector Maurice Chimseu asked the court to impose a stiffer sentence to deter would-be offenders.
Chimseu argued that the reverend abused his position of trust and responsibility to protect children, and provide counseling to his church members.
He added that cases of defilement were becoming common in the district.
“The suspect planned to commit the offence hence he gave the cell phone to the victim in order to ease communication between the two,” Chimseu said.
Reverend Banda’s lawyer Moses Chinkhuntha of John Tennyson Associates pleaded with the court to give a lenient penalty saying Banda was a first offender, therefore, deserved suspended sentence.
Sentecing the cleric, First Grade Magistrate Cuthbert Phiri said the jail sentence shoud serve as a warning to religious keaders who prey on young girls instead of preaching the gospel..
“As a leader, he was supposed to protect the girl as his own child. The punishment should be a wakeup call to would-be offenders,” said Phiri before slapping the reverend with 14 years IHL.
Rumphi Police statistics show that 27 defilement cases have been registered between January and September this year alone with four happening in the past two weeks.