As sexual abuse cases continue to rise in Malawi, Mzuzu high court has sent a strong warning to would be perpetrators by handing a 58 years jail term sentence to Thomas Chavula, 41, for defiling three young girls between 2016 and 2019.
Judge Thomson Ligowe, in his November 6 determination, said the sentences will run concurrently, meaning that Chavula will be behind bars for 24 years, a record sentence on defilement.
The full charges were three counts of sexual assault of a 11-year-old stepdaughter between 2016 and 2019; defilement of a three-year-old girl in March 2019, who was a daughter to his neighbour, while the third count, Chavula defiled a nine-year-old girl, his tenant’s daughter, in August 2019.
“Regarding the first count, Thomas Chavula defiled the girl repeatedly over a period of three years from the age of nine to 11.
“At the age of 41, he was old enough to appreciate the consequences of his acts. Considering that he defiled three girls in his vicinity, it seems some kind of habit had developed in him,” Ligowe said in his ruling.
He said the convict was “dangerous to society.” “He [Chavula] should be kept away for a long time. I order imprisonment for 24 years with hard labour.”
For defilement of a three-year-old girl, Ligowe slapped Chavula with 18 years imprisonment with hard labour while the defilement of his tenant’s nine-year-old daughter, he was handed a 16-year-jail sentence.
Ligowe said for the sentences to run consecutively, he would spend 58 years in jail.
Women Legal Resource Centre executive director Maggie Kathewera Banda welcomed the sentence, saying the judge has set a “precedence and must be commended.”
Elsewhere, Chitipa magistrate’s court has sentenced a 35-year-old man to 14 years imprisonment for defiling a 14-year-old girl.
A state prosecutor only identified as Kanyumbu, told the court that the convict has an affair with the girl in 2018.
He said the accused impregnated the girl in 2019, forcing her to drop out of school while in standard 8.
The accused denied the charges, but the state paraded three witnesses to prove the case.
In a related development, the court also sentenced a 19-year-old man to seven years imprisonment for defiling a 15-year-old girl in the district.
Several rights groups have taken to the streets to protest against the rising cases of sexual violence against women and girls.
The groups have handed over petitions to Government demanding stiff punishments for offenders.
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has ordered Homeland Security Ministry to set up a taskforce that would deal with issues of defilement and rape.
Chakwera strongly condemned sexual violence against females, saying: “It is disturbing to note that across the country children are being defiled and numbers keep escalating,” he said.
Source: The Nation Newspaper