The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court on Thursday convicted a police officer for raping a 17-year-old Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) student in a cell at Limbe Police Station.
Presiding magistrate Soka Banda said he had convicted the officer, Andrew Chagaga, because it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that the complainant had indeed been raped and all evidence pointed to him.
Chagaga is alleged to have raped the student twice and a medical officer who examined the victim confirmed there was penetration.
The magistrate, among others, stated it was also clear that one defence witness, a Chirombo, lied when he claimed the victim only spent 10 minutes with the accused and that she was arrested for having sex by the roadside around Misesa Cemetery.
He said Chirombo lied to the court to conceal that he had allegedly received a K8 000 bribe from one of the State witnesses to release the girl.
The court has since revoked Chagaga’s bail and he has been sent to Chichiri Prison pending sentencing scheduled for August 11 2021.
The matter was being prosecuted by three lawyers Eunice Ndingo from the Ministry of Justice, Ruth Kaima from Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Advocacy (Chreaa) and Chikondi Chijozi of Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc).
In an interview on Thursday after the conviction, Kaima said they were delighted with the judgement because the case proved that even men in uniform were not immune to the rule of law.
She said: “We uphold the court for ensuring justice for the raped victim. We are however, appealing to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to pursue the Corrupt Act that was done by one police officer who testified before the court.
“This is proof of the concerns that we have been raising with regard to police arresting people for petty offences and extorting money from them,” he said.
On his part, Dunstan Chunda executive director of Mulelewaka Foundation, one of the civil society organisation that have been giving moral and psychological support to the student since the court begun hearing her case in March this year, saluted the court for the conviction.
However, he said despite the positive outcome the student suffered unnecessary trauma inflicted by the slow judicial process.
Chunda said the police have a duty of care for children and Limbe Police Station failed their responsibility.
“This must be a lesson to all professionals that once they break the law the same law will also go against them,” he said.
The court was supposed to deliver judgement on July 5 but the matter was adjourned to on Thursday due to the magistrate’s unavailability.