Three Malawians of Asian origin have been convicted by the Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court in Blantyre for being found guilty of kidnapping a five-year-old boy also of Asian descent in December 2018.
The court has also acquitted three others and discharged them from the case after the State failed to establish independent evidence about their involvement.
The three convicted abductors are Lehrasib Khan, 25, Hamzar Akbar, 23, and the alleged masterminder, Shazed Khan, 22.
Those who have been acquitted and discharged forthwith are 19-year-old Fahim Azifer, Shabir Azizi and Shaffir Waka. All the seven are of Pakistani origin.
Police arrested the six in December 2018 for the offence of kidnapping the boy, Tahil Shail, from Mpingwe in Blantyre before dumping him later at a mosque at Kanjedza Township.
They were charged with the offence of kidnapping contrary to Section 263 of the Penal Code and in the alternative the offence of child trafficking contrary to Section 79 of the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act.
After the abduction, the accused demanded a ransom of $4 million (over K3 billion) from his father Mohammed Shail, 34, who has a chain of businesses in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
Presiding magistrate Simeon Mdeza, who has now been promoted High Court judge, said he convicted the three young men because the State successfully established its case against them.
He said the three had direct link to the “commission of the offence beyond reasonable doubt” and accordingly found them guilty and convicted them as charged.
On the other hand, Mdeza argued there was no independent evidence other than the confession of fellow accused persons to warrant conviction for the three.
“I indeed have doubts and I resolve my doubts in favour of the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants. Therefore, I accordingly acquit the 4th, 5th and 6th accused persons from the offence of kidnapping and they are effectively discharged forthwith.
In an interview, private practice lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta who was part of the prosecution team said the three convicts have since been remanded to prison pending sentencing on December 29 2020.
The convicts abducted the child on December 11 2018 using a Toyota Fortuner registration DZ 5044 and dropped him at Kanjedza mosque using a Volkswagen Polo registration CA1658.