Dedza First Grade Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday sentenced two men to 25 years for their connection with the murder of a 17-year-old boy with albinism.
The two, 26-year-old Vuto Bizwick and 20-year-old Manuel Robert, were arrested last week after they confessed to have abducted the boy, Fletcher Machinjiri, whom they took to Mozambique where he was murdered and his bones removed for rituals.
First grade magistrate Eneta Jiya Banda sentenced the two on three charges, six years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) on the first count of conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to Section 404 of the Penal Code and 12 years IHL on the second count of abducting with intent to murder contrary to Section 261 of the Penal Code, to run concurrently.
On the third count of trafficking a person contrary to Section 15 sub section (1) of Trafficking Act No 3 of 2015, Jiya Banda sentenced the two convicts to 13 years imprisonment with hard labour.
On Tuesday, the court adjourned the case after State prosecutor appealed to seek interpretation from the High Court on whether to proceed with the case as the offence of trafficking in person attracts a maximum sentence of 21 years, which is beyond the jurisdiction of the First Grade Magistrate’s Court.
High Court judge Ivy Kamanga gave a go-ahead to the first grade magistrate on Wednesday.
The two men have now been committed to the High Court to answer murder charges, according to Dedza deputy police spokesperson Cassim Manda.
Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) president Boniface Massa last week hailed the courts for offering penalties that would deter would-be offenders.
Massa said Apam is working with lawyers provided by government to appeal any judgement it was not satisfied with.
During her visit to Malawi last week, United Nations independent expert on the rights of persons with albinism Ikponwasa Ero said there is zero protection for albinos in the country.
She described the situation in the country as an emergency and called for government intervention, especially in amending relevant legislations