The Bible teaches us that the mountain was a special place for God to meet His people. In the Old Testament, we hear about Moses receiving the 10 Commandments from God at Mount Sinai.
Likewise, in the New Testament, we read about Jesus’ great teaching on the mountain.
As expected, nowadays many believers also go to mountains for prayers and fasting in search of breakthroughs in their lives.
But 15-year-old Lucy Nangozo (not real name) of Mulanje will live to curse the mountain as this is where, instead of going pray and fast for breakthroughs her biological mother and stepfather took her for an act that will traumatise her for the rest of her life—defilement in search of family riches.
The story as narrated in the court of law says on August 1 2019, Nangozo’ parents asked her to accompany them for prayers at one of the hills in the district. Which obedient child would object such a request?
The three started off on the journey—covering about 30 kilometres from their home village to the hill, where in full view of her mother, her stepfather suddenly made sexual advances at her and, indeed, satisfied his lust. The parents are said to have threatened her that if she refused she would go mad.
She told the court that her stepfather said God had told him that the act would bring riches to the family. But was this the real God we all know?
The three spent the day at the hill, and returned home the following day, where Nangozo wasted no time but to report her ordeal to police who later arrested the couple and charged the father with defilement, which contrary to Section 138 (1) of the Penal Code. The mother was charged with the aiding defilement, which contrary to Section 21(c) of the Penal Code.
Appearing before First Grade Magistrate Smart Maruwasa, the couple pleaded guilty to the charges and following their own plea of guilty, Maruwasa sentenced them to14 years and 10 years in jail respectively “to deter would-be offenders”. According to Maruwasa, the acts by the convicts were exploitative and should not be condoned by any measure.
In an interview, Mulanje Police child protection officer (CPO), sub-inspector Amosi Mthunzi described the acts by convicts as unfortunate, saying what they did was the least expected of parents or guardians.
Quoting Section 3 of Child Care, Protection and Justice Act (2010) and Section 23 of the Malawi Constitution, Mthunzi said it is incumbent upon parents and guardians to take care of their children. He said, among others, parents have the responsibility to protect their children from neglect, discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation, oppression and exposure to physical, mental, social and moral hazards.
On this note, Mthunzi hailed the working relationship among stakeholders such as courts, the social welfare office, Youth Net and Counselling Organisation (Yoneco) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which he said is enhancing protection of child, especially girls, in the district.
He welcomed the sentence given to the convicted couple, saying it will send a strong warning to like-minded irresponsible parents.
Mthunzi’s message to children was that they must help the fight against their abuse by reporting to authorities any perpetrator. He warned those that abuse children that they will face the long arm of the law regardless of their relationship with the child they abuse.
In a separate interview, Pastor Collins Mwauluka of Kingdom Life Ministries cautioned society against sinning in the name of God. He said the true God that he knows cannot allow His children to be abused in such a way.
“It is disheartening that some people can be so callous as to hide behind God to sin,” he said.
Mwauluka, who also helps in handling cases at Mulanje Police Victim Support Unit (VSU) said the action by the convicted couple was disturbing, especially to children who look up to parents for protection.
“A family is like a training ground for children such that what parents do should always provide care and protection to them. If parents, especially mothers can abuse their children like this, who will protect them?” he wondered.
Meanwhile, Paramount Chief M’mbelwa of Mzimba recently dethroned a group village head for marrying a minor.
Speaking to the local media, M’mbelwa described the act by GVH Mahobe as irresponsible. He said as custodians of culture, traditional leaders are supposed to be exemplary.
Reacting to the story about the Mzimba GVH marrying a minor, social commentator Emily Mkamanga, hailed the Paramount Chief for taking the bold decision to dethrone the traditional leader.
Mkamanga said most chiefs and other leaders think they are above the law; hence the action by Paramount Chief will send a strong warning to like-minded traditional leaders.
But the question still lingers in the mind: If the parents, chiefs prey on the girl child, who will protect her?