The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court on Monday convicted three people for unlawfully exhuming a human corpse contrary to Sections 131 (b) and 404 of Malawi’s Penal Code.
The court sitting at Muloza Magistrate’s Court in Mulanje district heard that between April and May this year, the three; Thomas Ndini, Dezio Jonas Ogala and Enock Banda connived to unearth the body of Chosadziwa Kaunda, a 16 year-old albino girl who died in 2016 due to natural causes.
Kaunda’s remains were later buried at Chibade Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Njema in the district. However, the convicts denied any involvement in the criminal act.
Evidence tendered in court by the prosecution suggested that on May 30th this year the deceased’s mother, Irene Moses, was notified by village head Chibade that unknown thugs had tampered with her daughter’s concrete tomb resulting into exhumation of Kaunda’s body.
Chibade then instituted a manhunt for the suspects throughout the district in view of the then mass killings and violent acts against Malawians living with albinism over unfounded myths that the sale of albino body parts leads to huge financial gains.
However, the search proved futile and the village head reportedly ordered his subjects to rebury Kaunda’s empty coffin.
According to Police, the body has never been traced to date as the three still deny knowledge of its whereabouts.
But court documents established that prior to the exhumation, the convicts had made several attempts to persuade Benson Maduka (State witness) to be party to the plan, but he refused and later exposed the plot to Chibade who took the matter to Mulanje Police.
Passing his judgement Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba observed that most of the evidence against the accused corroborated with Maduka’s statement.
Maduka had also told the court that just before the exhumation occurred he met his three friends armed with a shovel and an empty sack and they allegedly told him they were ready for the plan.
The Magistrate therefore convicted them on a charge of conspiracy to exhume a dead body in accordance with Sections 259 and 260 of the criminal procedure and evidence Code.
Nyimba has since reserved his ruling to November 17 this year to allow both the prosecution and defence prepare for final submissions ahead of the sentencing.
Speaking in an interview with The Nation after the conviction Southern Region Police prosecutions officer, senior superintendent Christopher Katani said he looks forward to the court’s stiff penalty on the convicts to deter other would-be offenders.
He said: “We will also make our submission [for the court] to arrive at a proper sentence in order to make it serve as a restriction to other criminals with similar intentions.”
Ndini, 36, Ogala, 32 and Banda, 26 hail from Chibade Village, T/A Njema in Mulanje district.