A local human rights group has asked President Lazarus Chakwera to exercise his constitutional powers to pardon a 19-year-old boy who recently got selected to Mzuzu University (Mzuni).
State House acting press secretary Anthony Kasunda confirmed in an interview on Wednesday the President received a letter from Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa), asking him to pardon Patrick Mwafulirwa.
Mwafulirwa, currently serving a nine-year-long jail term at Mzuzu Prison for defiling a 16-year-old girl, became top among fellow prisoners in the country after he scored 17 points during the 2020 Malawi School Certificate of Education.
The teenager was sent to jail on August 13 2021 after he impregnated his classmate.
However, Kasunda said the letter will be referred to the Ministry of Justice as the President pardons convicts based on its recommendations.
Malawi Prison Service, through Mzuzu Prison education coordinator Sundays Kuyokwa, has also thrown its weight behind Chreaa’s request for Mwafulirwa’s early release to pursue his studies at Mzuni.
Kuyokwa has since written the chief commissioner of prisons Clement Kainja, in a letter dated September 6 2021, requesting him to consider releasing the boy.
He argues that Mwafulirwa has displayed good behaviour and fears the boy’s continued stay in prison would make him lose his place at the university.
Mwafulirwa is due for release on May 25 2023 but he is expected to enroll at Mzuni early next year.
Meanwhile, Chreaa has filed an application at the High Court in Blantyre, asking for review of laws surrounding defilement offence.
The case, according to Chreaa executive director Victor Mhango, awaits Chief Justice’s nod to certify it as a constitutional matter.
Mhango said: “We want the Constitutional Court to declare criminalisation of what happens between these teenagers out of experimenting as their bodies are transforming, unconstitutional.
“Today, if a 15-year-old boy sleeps with a girl of the same age, if reported and proved, the boy would go to jail [reformatory centre] regardless of whether it was a consensual sexual relationship.”