Lilongwe senior resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha has sentenced three Area 24 women to four years imprisonment for acts intended to cause grievous harm and insulting the modesty of a woman.
The three—Flora Chinguwo, Nora Chatsika and Gertrude Banda— ganged up on Bridget Kunchulesi (complainant) on October 20 this year, wounding her for allegedly having an affair with Chinguwo’s husband.
The case attracted public interest when a video clip showing the three women beating up the complainant and pulling off her braids went viral on social media.
The court has said the sentence should run from the day the trio was arrested.
Giving the sentence yesterday, Chiotcha said the three deserved a longer sentence but the court exercised leniency considering the torture that the women went through in the hands of the police in Area 24 and Kawale.
He condemned the conduct of police towards the women while in custody, describing it as an imitation of the inhumane act that the three convicts subjected the complainant to.
He said: “The appropriate sentence for this case would be 10 years or more, however, it will be injustice if the court does not put into account the torture that the women went through in the hands of police.”
During hearing on Monday, the three women’s lawyer Oscar Taulo asked the court to consider as a mitigating factor that the convicts were subjected to punishment before they were taken to court.
“Police at Kawale also photographed the convicts while naked, posted the photos on social media and later took them to a public toilet where they were asked to sleep on the floor while naked,” Taulo said.
In his remarks, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) deputy director of civil and political rights Peter Mota said justice has run its course.
“People who violated rights of others have been made to suffer the consequences,” he said.
MHRC has since encouraged the convicts to lodge a complaint with them or the Ombudsman if they feel their rights were violated while in police custody. n