The High Court in Mzuzu has quashed a ruling by the Nkhata Bay First Grade Magistrate’s Court which imposed fines on 30 learners for early pregnancies at Uhoho Primary School.
Following the pregnancies in 2016, the learners, both boys and girls, were suspended from school and brought before the magistrate to decide their fate based on the community by-laws.
The magistrate ordered the learners and their parents to pay K10 000 fine each or in default to be locked up until they pay
However, the learners, with the help of some non-governmental organisations, appealed against the magistrate’s decision.
In her ruling, High Court Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle observed that the issue at hand was to do with by-laws and should not have been handled as a court issue.
She said the fines were also on the higher side and a burden on the people.
“The magistrate abused his powers and overreached his authority because he used court staff, resources and facilities to hear these complaints and made the whole issue look like it was the magistrate’s court that had made the decision,” reads the ruling.
Youth Watch Society executive director Muteyu Banda commended the court for nullifying the punishments, saying the learners and parents did not deserve them.