Zomba Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday sentenced Father Numeri Mweta, 39, of Lisanjala Parish of Zomba Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church to 17 years imprisonment for abduction, defilement and procuration of a15-year-old girl.
The court sentenced Mweta on the first count of abduction of a girl under the age of 16 contrary to Section 136 of the Penal Code to 18 months imprisonment, the second count of procuration of a girl under the age of 21 contrary to Section 140 (a) to 10 years imprisonment and the third count of defilement contrary to Section 138 (1) of the Penal Code to 17 years imprisonment. The sentences are to run concurrently; hence, he will be in prison for 17 years.
The court, on March 8 found Mweta guilty of the cited offences.
In mitigation, his lawyer Timothy Chirwa had asked the court to be considerate in sentencing his client arguing the girl was not a virgin. Chirwa, who was not present during the sentencing, also requested the court to sentence his client not as a priest but like any other person.
Reading the sentence, magistrate Roderick Michongwe said the issue of whether the girl was not a virgin does not hold. He said the offence of defilement can be committed to girls under the age of 16 regardless of their virginity.
The court also said in the instant case, the victim was impregnated by the convict which is an aggravating factor as the conduct put the victim out of school since July 2018.
The court also considered that the offences were premeditated as the convict rented houses for the victim in various locations.
“He took advantage of her immaturity and exploited her. This has brought unbearable consequences to the victim and her parents as the bond between them and the child was disturbed,” reads part of the sentence.