The State has filed an application to commit to the High Court the sentencing of convicted police officer Andrew Chagaga who last month was found guilty of raping a 17-year-old girl.
State lawyers yesterday addressed Blantyre first grade magistrate Soka Banda on the application, but the court reserved its ruling to Tuesday next week.
Neither the convict nor his lawyer was present during the hearing in the courtroom packed with friends and relations of the victim, a student of the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas).
Summarising the State’s case, lawyer Trevor Mphalale from the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions urged the court to consider several aggravating factors when making a ruling to deter the public as well as police officers to be responsible with their job.
He observed that the High Court has of late been imposing stiffer penalties for sexual offences as such it was the State’s plea that matter would be committed to the High Court.
Said Mphalale: “As a State we believe that the recent trends of sentences is the start of a revolution in terms of sexual offences’ sentencing and we believe we can push that revolution in High Court and get a harder punishment for this convict.
“You also have to consider that the convict was not just an ordinary citizens but a protector of the law by being a police officer and he raped the victim twice.”
After raping the girl while in police custody, Chagaga allegedly forced her to bathe herself to conceal evidence then took her out of the cell around midnight and dumped her in the street.
Besides Mphalale, other State lawyers include Chikondi Chijozi from Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Ruth Kaima from the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Advocacy.
Mphalale took over the matter from Eunice Ndingo, also from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who was the lead prosecutor but is currently abroad for studies.
Chagaga is on remand at Chichiri Prison waiting for sentencing. In an interview, Chijozi said they felt the powers of the First Grade Magistrate’s Court was limited to 14 years as such the convict would not get a stiffer penalty