The High Court of Malawi has sentenced police officer Andrew Chagaga to 30 years imprisonment for raping a 17-year-old girl.
The officer raped the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences student while she was in police custody.
Delivering her sentence yesterday, High Court Judge Vikochi Chima said she handed the convict 30 years imprisonment after considering all the submissions filed by both the State and the defence.
She said Chagaga, who raped the victim twice on the night of December 13 2020 after she was picked for allegedly walking at night, is just 33 years old and takes full responsibility for the crime.
The judge said: “A police officer is someone who has been entrusted with responsibility to protect, but he obtained sexual activity by force while on duty. Yet, a police station is supposed to be a safe place.
“After considering all these, Mr. Chagaga has been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with hard labour.”
One of the lawyers representing the victim, Chikondi Chijozi, said based on the circumstances and that the convict is a police officer, he deserved more than 30 years imprisonment.
She said: “We wish he had been given more time, but we are still happy because 30 years is more than what the lower court would have given in this particular case if he was sentenced by the lower court.
“We feel that the court has taken into consideration all the issues that we raised and we hope that the victim feels that justice has been served at this time”.
After Judge Chima pronounced a 30-year custodial sentence, some close relations and friends of the victim could not hold back tears of joy that justice has prevailed.
Some of the victims’ colleagues from the university chanted and celebrated sarcastically as Chagaga was taken away to serve his time at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre.
In an interview, the victim’s mother (name withheld) expressed satisfaction with how the case has been handled, saying justice has prevailed.
She said: “We don’t mind the number of years he has been given, but what matters is that justice has prevailed. So I am very excited.”
On September 1 2021, Blantyre First Grade Magistrate’s Court committed to the High Court sentencing of Chagaga following an application filed by the State, which argued that the convict would get a stiffer sentence than the maximum 14 years a magistrate court can give.
In his judgement, presiding first grade magistrate Soka Banda said the court was convinced with the State’s submission that the convict deserved a stiffer penalty.
He said the fact that the accused was a police officer and took advantage of the victim to rape and dump her in the street at midnight did qualify for aggravating factors.
The court convicted the officer after establishing that the complainant had indeed been raped twice and evidence pointed to Chagaga.
Banda observed that the current sentencing trends in sexual offences ranged from 20 years and above; hence, handing down a sentence of 14 years or less to the convict would not be commensurate with the committed offence.
Chagaga was convicted on July 15 last year and was remanded in custody