THREE men of Lusaka have been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each with hard labour for burning a makeshift shop and a vehicle at Soweto market.
And Lusaka High Court judge Catherine Phiri says cases of arson have been prevalent in Zambia, especially those related to political hooliganism.
Kelvin Mayanda, unemployed, Lastone Kasonde and Albert Chileshe, both loaders, were charged with arson after being accused of burning down three makeshift shops and a motor vehicle at Soweto market on August 15, 2016.
They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges. The matter went for a full trial after which the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court convicted them on one count and were acquitted on others due to insufficient evidence.
The court established that on the material day, the trio wilfully and unlawfully set fire to one makeshift shop, the property of Brighton Liambo.
The matter was referred to the High Court for sentencing and for review of the conviction by the lower court before Judge Catherine Phiri.
And in her ruling delivered on Tuesday, Judge Phiri found that the lower court was on firm ground in finding that the three acted together when burning down the makeshift store.
“There was common design in the intention to destroy the property and, apparently, the destruction of the property was by means of burning down the shop. This falls squarely into the offence for which the three convicts were charged.“I have carefully considered the record before me and find that the magistrate was on firm ground in convicting the three of the subject offence. I accordingly uphold the conviction of all the convicts in this matter,” she said.
And in passing judgment, Judge Phiri condemned the behaviour of the three convicts, saying cases of arson have become prevalent, especially those related to politically motivated hooliganism.
“This court will be failing in its duty if it does not impose a sentence that is not deterrent to those who may find themselves in similar circumstances. “I will, therefore, sentence the three to 15 years imprisonment each with hard labour from the date they were arrested,” she said.