A driver, Amani Malilo, who was sentenced to six month in jail by Mpanda District Magistrate's Court in Katavi Region early this week for cohabiting with a 16 year-old schoolgirl for four months work with the Africa Initiative for Relief and Development (AIRD) , a partner of UNHCR.
A statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Malilo works for the AIRD unlike reports that he was employed by UNHCR.
"I draw your attention to the fact that no UNHCR driver has been involved in any such court case and that this case refers to a driver employed by the AIRD, a partner of UNHCR. The Government of Tanzania is also a partner with UNHCR.
The driver in question is not a UNHCR staff member at all." read the statement. The schoolgirl who by then was in Form Two at Mishamo Secondary School located in Mishamo refugee settlement in Mpanda District has since dropped out of school.
However, the court gave the convict an alternative to pay a fine of 100,000/- which he paid and was eventually set free. Passing the judgment, the Magistrate, Mr Chingaga Ntengwa, said it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.
"What you did is inhuman and barbaric, therefore, I sentence you to six months in jail or pay a fine of 100,000/-. "I pass this sentence so that it will serve as a lesson not only to you but also to others," added Mr Chingaga.
Prosecuting earlier, Assistant Inspector of Police, Mr Lazaro Masembo charged before the court that the accused committed the crime between November 27 and December 25 last year at Mishamo refugee settlement in the district.
It was further alleged before the court that the convict lived with the schoolgirl and travelled with her to Kasulu town in Kigoma Region where they stayed for two days before returning to Mpanda town.
According to Mr Masembo the convict drove a vehicle straight to its refugee's agency at Mji Mwema Street in Mpanda town and while at the gate a security guard saw the girl in the car and enquired.
The convict told him that she was his daughter. Then, according to the Prosecutor, the convict parked the car at the office and took the schoolgirl to his house along Mji Mwema Street and the following day, he gave her 5,000/- for domestic use and left for office.
Mr Masembo explained that the convict went to live illegally with the alleged schoolgirl until March 26, this year, when the convict forgot his mobile phone in the bedroom which the girl used to inform her aunt, Chausiku Adam, who stays along Kawajense Street in Mpanda town that he was living with Malilo along Mji Mwema Street.
It was at that juncture the schoolgirl's aunt hurriedly alerted the girl's mother at Ifumbula area in the Mishamo refugee settlement , who rushed and reported the incident to Mpanda Central Police who acted swiftly and nabbed the suspect.
"Although the accused has no previous criminal record yet I pray the court to pass on him a severe punishment that will serve as a lesson to others who have similar evil intentions," charged the prosecutor before the court.
In mitigation, the convict prayed the court to forgive him because his family did not have any custodian to look after them as his wife and children were in Kasulu town in Kigoma Region.