AMAN who was serving a 17- year jail term for defilement has almost doubled the time he will spend in a correctional facility after the Court of Appeal quashed an earlier verdict and increased his sentence to 35 years. In the earlier case, on March 21, 2017, in Namwala district, Morris Mweene defiled his 14-year-old niece after he asked her to prepare water for him to bath. He was convicted and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment with hard labour after the State proved the case against him.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mweene appealed against his conviction and sentence advancing the defence of alibi when the offence was committed. However, the Court of Appeal, which is currently sitting in Ndola, said the 17-year jail term was shockingly too short a period considering the circumstances under which the offence was committed. Delivering judgment on behalf of the court, justice Catherine Makungu said Mweene defiled his niece, whom he was keeping, and breached her trust.
“We, therefore, see it fit to quash the sentence and instead sentence the appellant to 35 years’ imprisonment with hard labour,” she said. And the court has quashed and sent back for retrial a case in which a 31-year-old man of Lusaka was convicted and sentenced to 35 years for defiling a five-year-old child. Simon Zandala, 31, was charged with defiling a girl under the age of 16. Justice Mwiinde Siavwapa said the trial magistrate relied on hearsay evidence to convict Zandala. And a 72-year-old physically challenged man who was sentenced to 14 years for attempted defilement has walked to freedom after the court established that his conviction was unsafe. It was a joyous moment when Perward Mwansa was set free by the Court of Appeal in a case he was accused of attempting to defile a 10-year-old girl.
According to records before court, Mwansa attempted to defile the victim after she went to buy vegetables at his house. The victim said Mwansa warned her not to tell anyone, threatening to kill her if she did so. After a few days, the child told her mother, who later reported Mwansa to Chunga police station. In his defence, Mwansa denied ever seeing the victim and said he suffered from stroke which affected his reproductive organs. He was, however, sent to a correctional facility for 14 years.
But Court of Appeal Justice Petronella Ngulube said there was no corroboration of the victim’s testimony as required by law. “There is no conclusive evidence that establishes that the prosecution went to Mwansa’s house, where she was allegedly defiled. The only evidence against him is the prosecution’s testimony,” she said. Meanwhile, a 23-year-old man yesterday stunned the Ndola Magistrate’s Court after he admitted defiling a three-yearold child. Shadreck Phiri, however, denied defiling another child, aged five.
Phiri is charged with two counts of defilement. It is alleged that on January 16 this year, Phiri had unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16. In count two, it is further alleged that Phiri, on the same dates, had unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16. W h e n t h e m a t t e r c a m e up before Magistrate Arnold Kasongamulilo, Phiri pleaded guilty in the first count, but denied the other count. “Yes, I understand the charge. I admit sleeping with her because I was drunk,” Phiri said. Magistrate Kasongamulilo adjourned the matter to March 4 for possible commencement of trial in the second count.