* ‘These acts are heinous and must be condemned in strongly terms’
* ‘Report any sort of violence against children and young women to the police’
* ‘Those who are caught must be given stiffer punishment in order to deter others’
By Duncan Mlanjira
United Democrat Front (UDF) Member of Parliament for Ndirande Malabada, Ismail Rizzq Mkumba on Saturday joined the nationwide condemnation of the rising cases of sexual defilement by joining a demonstration march in his constituency.
Mkumba described these acts as heinous and must be condemned in strongly terms.
He said he was approached two days prior by Frenaso in conjunction with Pamodzi Theatre to join the march from Goliyo to Malaysia to raise awareness of the violence against children and young women that is becoming rather rampant in Ndirande.
“Just two days earlier, two children were raped by a man from their own family,” he said. “So I thought it was a great stance by the youth to stand up and speak out against this sort of violence.
“I participated to portray that the government is not happy with this sort of practice and also to encourage children and the wider community to speak out and report any sort of violence against children and young women to the police.
He urged parents to be vigilant to safeguard their children while at the same time asking women to be on their guard as they too are vulnerable.
“We can’t allow this trend to continue and we must all rise up so that this must stop.
“Those who are caught must be given stiffer punishment in order to deter others from this deplorable criminal conduct.”
He also said mothers must stop shielding their husbands who are defiling kids, especially their stepdaughters.
“Mothers must report their husbands if they discover they have raped their children. They shouldn’t suffer in silence simply to protect their marriages.
“It’s like we are living in dark ages. I fail to understand how a matured man would want to have sex with a 5-year-old — this is totally unacceptable and once caught must really be given stiff punishment by the courts,” he said.
Last month, Association of Women in Media (AWOME) — in conjunction with women civil rights activists as well as Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, stormed the streets of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu with a petition to demand the government to act on the increase cases of defilement.
Among others, the women in media are demanding the government to put tougher punishments on perpetrators of sexual violence so that they should be given stiffer sentences up to life imprisonment as prescribed in the Penal Code.
In an interview, the Speaker said as a woman, she was concerned with the situation, saying it was not fair that young girls should continue being raped.
She said, there is need for harmonisation of the laws between the Child Justice and the Penal Code so that even those that do not report the incidences should also face the law.
Meanwhile, Ntcheu Senior Resident Magistrate Court has sentenced 33-year-old Laiden Kalowa to 19 years imprisonment with hard labour for defiling a 15-year-old primary school standard 4 pupil.
State Prosecutor, Sub Inspector Beatrice Kankhuni told the court that Kalowa committed the offence on October 18, 2020 at around 11 pm when the victim was asleep in the house with two other siblings while their mother was away.
Kalowa was arrested by the members of community policing after the victim shouted for help.
Prosecutor Kankhuni asked the court to give Kalowa a stiffer punishment considering that the offence committed was a serious in nature and attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and that the offences are becoming rampant in the district.
In mitigation, Kalowa asked the court to be lenient in passing sentence, saying he is a family man and he looks after his grandparents and three orphans.
Senior Resident Magistrate, Yohane Munthali said the offence was becoming rampant in the district and that he needs to be given stiffer punishment to serve as a deterrent to other would be offenders and thus the 19 years sentence.
As calls for stiffer punishment mount for the authorities to act on the increase of rape and defilement cases in the country, the High Court sitting in Mzuzu sentenced 37-year-old Thomas Chavula to 58 years imprisonment with hard labour on three counts of defilement — one involving a three-year-old girl.
The sentence for the first count is 24 years; the second is 18 years and the third 16 years and taking cognizance that to allow the three sentences run consecutively would mean serving 58 years, Justice T.R. Ligowe has ordered that they should run concurrently — to serve the highest sentence of 24 years.
The case was first heard by a Chief Magistrate Court but since the lower authority could not pass a greater punishment sentence of over 20 years as per the law, it was committed before the High Court after Chavula was found guilty.
The Chief Resident Magistrate convicted Chavula in the first count in which he defiled his step-daughter between 2016 and 2019 at Ching’ambo in Mzuzu — beginning when she was a nine-year-old.
The second count involved a three-year and three months old — a neighbor’s daughter while the third count, Chavula is reported to have defiled a nine-year-old child of his house’s tenant also at Ching’ambo.
In passing the sentence, Justice Ligowe had said if courts listen to offenders pleas for leniency more often, they will be preoccupied with the plight of the defendant’s relations and ignore the crime the defendant has committed.
The Judge said all the offences were premeditated and he is a danger to society — thus the stiff sentence.—Additional reporting by By Martha Kwataine, MANA