16 August 2018

Malawi: Nsanje Court Fines Two Men Over Theft of Drugs

Nsanje August 15, 2018. Nsanje Second Grade Magistrate's Court on Tuesday convicted and ordered two men to pay a fine of K200, 000 and K120, 000 respectively upon finding them guilty of being in possession of property believed to have been stolen.

The offence is contrary to section 329 of the Penal Code and accessory to commit a felony contrary to section 404 of the Penal Code.

It was heard in court that the two identified as Mavuto Frackshoni, 35, and John Kefa, 44, were arrested on July 9, 2018 at a makeshift road block at Alumenda, close to Nchalo along the Blantyre - Chikwawa Road after being found in possession of medical drugs valued at K586, 000 believed to have been stolen at Tengani Health Centre in the district.

The first convict during previous court appearance disclosed that he bought the drugs from a pharmacist, Paul Kaunda at the facility at the amount of K110, 000 and the pharmacist who had been at large for a while is being charged of theft by civil servant after being apprehended.

On the other hand, the second accused Kefa said he works as a mechanic and on the material day he received a call from his friend Frackshoni that his car had a break down at Ngabu and he went to repair it.

However, after repairing the vehicle, Frackshoni told the second accused to drive it to Nchalo where his first wife resides and on his way it is when the police cornered him.

On the judgment day, prosecutor Inspector Samson Balakasi asked the Magistrate to give a stiff punishment to the convicts although they were first offenders, considering the gravity of the crime and to save as a lesson to other would - be drug peddlers.

"Although both convicts are first offenders; they deserve stiff punishment to ring a bell to others harbouring similar intentions. The culprits committed the offense out of their will and drugs are very essential which are clearly labeled 'not for sale.' Moreover, donors that help us with such drugs cannot be happy to hear such cases," said Balakasi.

In mitigation, first defendant asked the court to exercise leniency when passing sentence because he is the sole bread-winner for his two families, besides losing a lot of business the time he has been on remand while the second accused said he looks after two orphans who may suffer in his absence.

Passing judgment, Second Grade Magistrate, George Chimombo said the two premeditated to steal the drugs in connection with the pharmacist at the health facility, hence deserved stiff punishment since it is clear that stealing medical drugs, especially from public facilities is a crime.

However, Chimombo said the two convicts needed to be considered when giving out the punishment because they were first offenders and that there is no any loss encountered by the facility because the 'loot' was confiscated.

"The first convict did not benefit from the stolen drugs because they were recovered and sent back to the facility where they have been used and his K110, 000 used to buy the drugs was not returned.

"Moreover, the two have been on remand for a long time which is a punishment on its own. The first defendant has been cooperative throughout the trial as he has been open in disclosing every detail about what happened while the second defendant was also not involved in the actual stealing but for transportation only," Chimombo observed.

Both convicts who risked serving a 12 months imprisonment with hard labour for failure to pay the fine have since honoured the fine.

Kefa comes from Sekeni Village while Frackshoni hails from Chikakuza both in the area of Paramount Chief Lundu in Chikwawa.

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