10 January 2017

Malawi: Mchinji Woman Jailed Four Years for Child Theft

Mchinji — The Mchinji First Grade Magistrate's Court has sentenced a 28 year-old Chrissie Vitche Banda to four years imprisonment with hard labour for stealing a four-day-old baby.

Police prosecutor Humphreys Makhalira told court that the mother of the stolen baby Lucia Clement (21) who hails from Chimwankango village in the area of senior chief Mkanda in Mchinji district reported to police that on January 3 this year she left her baby who is currently under Kangaroo mother care and receiving special care and attention from doctors at Mchinji District Hospital alone in the room while she was getting her breakfast outside.

Makhalira said it was during this time that Banda took advantage and secretly went into the room and took away the toddler.

"A tip-off from villagers facilitated more during the investigations which led to the recovery of the baby who was found two days from the day it went missing" Makhalira said.

The court also heard that that elderly women from Chikhutu village where the baby was found organised themselves to inspect the convict after she was spotted with the newborn baby while with no history of pregnancy.

It is against this background that the villagers tipped the police who rushed to arrest the culprit and recover the baby.

Because of her own plea of guilty and admitting to the facts presented by the state, First Grade Magistrate Rodwell Meja Phiri who presided over the case found the woman guilty of child theft which is contrary to section 167 of the Penal Code.

In mitigation Banda who has three daughters from different fathers confessed before the court that it was work of the devil.

She said she went to the hospital for gynecology services but decided to steal the child because of pressure from her husband.

But in his judgment Magistrate Meja Phiri said the woman deserved a human trafficking offence.

"You should thank the state that they charged you with this offence. Otherwise I would advise the prosecution to amend the charge sheet to charge you with an appropriate charge under human trafficking which attracts a maximum penalty of life imprisonment with hard labour," stated the magistrate.

He later slashed her to serve a custodial sentence of four years imprisonment with hard labour from the day of her arrest.

Chrissie Vitche Banda hails from Chikhutu village in the area of traditional authority Zulu in Mchinji.

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