*Two refugees fined K50,000 each; 15 others arrested for operating shops inside curfew hours
Dowa First Grade Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted and sentenced two refugee men to a fine of K50,000 each or in default serve two months imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for operating a business (bottle store) outside permitted hours contrary to the Malawi Public Health (Corona Virus and COVID-19) regulations.
A police report by Dowa Police public relations officer (PRO), Sub-Inspector Gladson M’bumpha indicates that the two convicts are Patience Bitula — from South Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Samuel Deleleyu from Makala Province in Ethiopia, both based at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
The report says the court head from state prosecutor Inspector Christopher Daluni that the two convicts were arrested on Tuesday (January 19) by Officer In-charge for Dowa Police Station Deputy Commissioner Rhoda Manjolo while on general observation in Dzaleka Refugee Camp if bar owners are adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures.
The court further heard that the convicts were found selling beer to customers outside permitted hours.
They pleaded guilt to the charge and in mitigation, the convicts pleaded with the court for a lenient sentence, saying they are first offenders.
Passing sentence, First Grade Magistrate Amran Phiri concurred with the state’s submission that the behaviour of the two would further spread the Coronavirus hence sentenced each of them to pay the fine or in default serve imprisonment with hard labour.
“The convicts have since paid the fines,” says the report by Sub-Inspector M’bumpha.
In another report, M’bumpha said they also arrested 15 people — 3 at Dowa Trading Centre and 12 others at Chezi Trading Centre — also for allegedly failing to comply with COVID-19 regulations by operating business shops inside curfew hours.
The suspects were arrested on Wednesday night by Dowa Police Station Officer, Senior Superintendent Belington Kamwagha and his team who had been conducting patrols ensuring that people are adhering to the COVID-19 regulations.
Following the directives which government put in place in order for the general public to follow on COVID-19 preventive measures, Dowa Police Station embarked on a whistle stop tour across the policing area to disseminate the directives.
The team, which was led by Inspector Penjani Mwazolokere on Tuesday visited seven trading centres of Msakambewa, Mwangala, Chibazi, Thambwe, Chezi, Mvera and Dowa Boma.
PRO M’bumpha said the police emphasized the mandatory use of face masks in public places, time set to operate different businesses, offences and made known the tentative penalties outlined in the regulations.
Before the whistle stop tour, M’bumpha said they also conducted a meeting with bar owners, market committees and among many others on the directives set by government on COVID-19 preventive measures.
Of late, Dowa First Grade Magistrate’s Court meted various sentences to offenders that included two people been fined for trafficking forest produce without licence; 36 months IHL for stealing motorcycle and K220,000 fine for contravening Road Traffic Act.
Others included a man being fined K150,000 for grevious harm and another imprisoned 10 years IHL for robbery while a woman was arrested for concealing birth of child.
The Court heard that 30-year-old Tobias Medisoni was found trafficking 97 bags of charcoal without a licence at Mvera Roadblock in on a two tonner lorry Toyota Dyna registration number BLK4856 November 27, 2020.
He contravened Section 12 of the amended Forest Act Number 7 of 2020 and was ordered to pay a fine of K100,000 or in default serve 6 months IHL.
A 47-year-old female, Triza Katukumala was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of K350, 000 also for been found in possession of 200 bags of charcoal without a licence or permit.
Katukumala was intercepted within Kongwe Forest Reserve by police officers from Dowa Police Station when she was on way to Lilongwe in a truck motor vehicle registration number LL672.
Medisoni comes from Chikadya 3 Village in Traditional Authority Ganya in Ntcheu District while Katukumala is from Malikha Village, T/A Mazengera in Lilongwe.
The Court has convicted also sentenced 19-year-old Phillip Nkhoma to 36 months IHL for stealing a motorcycle, unregistered Lifan model valued at K440,000 belonging to Noah Sainani.
Appearing before court, the convict pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of motorcycle contrary to Section 282 of the Penal Code.
The same court also convicted and sentenced 21-year-old Manyozo Banda of Chinthowa Village, T/A in Dowa to 20 months imprisonment with hard labour for breaking into a building and committing felony therein contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code.
The court heard that the convict on December 23, 2020 at Mayadi location broke and entered into a kraal of chickens belonging to Bakaya Yohane Mtsitsi and stole therein two chickens valued at K6,000.
On Tuesday, the same Court convicted and sentenced a 43-year-old man to pay a fine of K150,000 or in default serve 10 months IHL for the offence of grevious harm contrary to Section 238 of the Penal Code.
The court through state prosecutor Inspector Christopher Daluni heard that Bwanali Kaunda on December 29, 2020 at Chanzi village greviously harmed Yakobe Shautani after he was found chatting with his wife.
The court further heard that the victim divorced his wife some months ago and later the wife got married to the convict.
On this particular day, the wife met her ex-husband (Yakobe Shautani) and told him to visit her house to chat by lying to him that she was still single.
The two went to the house without the knowledge of the convict and when he found the two chatting and in fury he poured hot porridge to the victim’s face and arms.
In court, he pleaded guilty to a charge of grevious harm and in passing sentence, First Grade Magistrate Amran Phiri agreed with the state’s submission for a stiff penalty to the offender, saying the offence is serious in nature.
He then ordered the convict to pay the huge fine as a warning to other potential offenders.
Another man, James Amani, was ordered by Dowa First Grade Magistrate’s Court to pay a fine of K220,000 or in default serve 26 months IHL for contravening Road Traffic Act.
The court heard that on December 31, 2020 Amani was discovered at Matowe Roadblock in the district driving a 10-tonne lorry registration number KK2661, which had no insurance, neither a certificate of fitness and for failing to comply with instructions of an authorized officer and endangering lives of people carried on top of goods vehicle.
Meanwhile, Dowa Police arrested 21-year-old Kesta Andrew for allegedly concealing birth of a child.
The suspect committed the offence on Wednesday morning (January 20) at Chiponda Village, T/A Msakambewa. A Police report indicates that the suspect was pregnant and gave birth on Tuesday afternoon.
But on Wednesday, at a funeral ceremony in the village, one person went for the services of a pit latrine where he heard the baby crying inside the toilet.
With assistance from the people who gathered at the funeral ceremony, they managed to rescue the child and the suspect admitted to have dumped the baby in the pit latrine, but she did not disclose the reasons for the act.
Police were informed, who in turn rushed to the scene and confirmed the incident.
Meanwhile, both the suspect and the baby are admitted to Dowa District Hospital where they are receiving treatment and the child’s mother will appear before court soon after being discharged from the hospital to answer a charge of concealing birth of a child.