Malawi ‘hyena’ seeks to change plea, wants lawyer: MHRC says Aniva is innocent until proven guilty

Nsanje-based Eric Aniva who is accused of defiling young girls in ritual cleansing and pleaded guilty in court wants to change his plea for not guilty and engage a lawyer to defend his case, Nyasa Times has learnt.

Aniva: All these girls find pleasure in having me as their hyena. They actually are proud and tell other people that this man is a real man, he knows how to please a woman.

Aniva: Faces sex crime rap

Aniva is said to have asked to be provided with a lawyer who can represent him in court when trial starts on August 5.

A lawyer said to have been approached to  defend Aniva told Nyasa Times that  he would need time to go through the evidence and court files to investigate whether the ‘hyena’  had a defence.

When he was arrested  upon President Peter Mutharika’s order following a story that was published by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in which  Aniva revealed to have been hired to sleep with 104 women and girls, Aniva  was charged with defilement contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code.

However, when the matter came up for hearing on Thursday at Nsanje Magistrates Court, Aniva  who confessed being HIV positive was charged with engaging in harmful practices contrary to Section 5 (1-2) of the Gender Equality Act of 2013.

He confessed to defiling young girls and sleeping with widows when he was HIV positive.

Aniva faces a maximum fine of K1 million and five years imprisonment.

The said Section 5 of the Gender Equality Act 2013 reads: “[1]. A person shall not commit, engage in, subject another person to, or encourage the commission of any harmful practice. [2]. Any person who contravenes this Section commits an offence and is liable to a fine of K1 million and five years imprisonment.”

But Aniva, who has since been remanded to Nsanje Prison pending police investigations , wants a lawyer to help him in court.

Lawyer Justine Dzonzi, the  chairperson of  taxpayer funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), has said  it is important to  treat Aniva innocent until court prove him guilty after all investigations are done.

“For a solid case to be made, whether it is in his favour or that of his potential victims, the police need to be given space to do their work independently and professionally.

“We know that the public has interest in the case but it is important to know that Mr. Aniva is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law and we are hoping that the police will be able to work beyond and above the hype and views coming from different quarters,” Dzonzi said.

MHRC has since has expressed interest to join the case through joint prosecution or as friends of the court.

“The commission intends to join the case either through joint prosecution or as friends of the court,” MHRC executive secretary Grace Malera.

According to MHRC, there is need for a thorough investigation to ascertain the real events. The issues of knowing his HIV sero-status and deliberately not taking precaution to prevent transmission and his admission of sexual abuse of children are both criminal offences of such a serious nature that the commission is compelled to take up this matter and scale up its engagement to eradicate harmful cultural practices.

Aniva’s arrest followed President Peter Mutharika’s directive to have him prosecuted following a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) story published on July 21 2016 outlining his role as a fisi (hyena) who sleeps with young girls and widows in sexual cleansing rituals.

Ironically, the local media had previously extensively reported on several harmful cultural practices. Several local institutions have also conducted and disseminated research findings on the said cultural practices, but there was never Executive action of such urgency.

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15 thoughts on “Malawi ‘hyena’ seeks to change plea, wants lawyer: MHRC says Aniva is innocent until proven guilty”

  1. Ine says:

    In criminal law, and in principles that are entrenched clearly in chapter four of the Malawi Constitution, any person charged with a criminal offence is innocent until proven guilty. In order to find the fisi guilty, the burden of proof is on the state, to bring evidence, beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. fisi is guilty of the offence he is being charged with. Among other things, the state has to present evidence that shows intention and action ( mens rea and actus reus). Now at the end of the day, if this is done this fisi and numerous other hyenas will face justice. It does not help us to resort to the law. Personally I condemn the fisi but if Malawi is to develop, the rule of law should prevail.

  2. paul says:

    they should try him for Genocide, each one of his victim is serving a death row sentence besides the drain of national economy for drugs and other medicare. families including the chief must all face complicit charges and if these crimes were conducted in secrecy, it does expose these people to awareness of illegal acts and therefore wilful intent to commit such crimes.

  3. knight jordaan says:

    If you know that you HIV POSITIVE why should you act as a hyena that is guilt

  4. True Patriot says:

    Just like it was argued before, Mr Animals is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law. He should seek legal representation, even if it means state funded – that is right and that is the beauty of democracy!

    In any case, I feel that the state has placed wrong charges against this man, if what is being quoted in the local media is to be believed. My understanding is that he never went out soliciting to offer his service but stupid parents and cultural leaders would come to him and actually paid him for his services! I appreciate that he should have the moral obligation, considering his HIV status, to turn down the offer.

    Sadly, morality is not always a criminal offense in our society and that is why cabinet ministers or our senior public figures, and even some of our religious leaders indulge in promiscuous behavior.

  5. Chigumbuli says:

    Mary Shawa shoudl also be arrested because she supported the practice. All she talked about was that they government needs more money to sensitize the people to do the cultural rites in a better way. She did not condemn the fisi. Also, in the BBC story there is Baptist Pastor whose daughter was abused by a fisi and did nothing. He too should brought to book. All those who read this fisi story 4 yeas ago and the one who wrote and edited should be brought to book for negligence.

  6. Peter Nkosi says:

    It is good for Aniva to plead not guilty, because then the defence lawyer can bring witnesses that the accused was never stopped by the government or customary authorities, thereby opening up for more of those involved to be subsequently prosecuted.

  7. Peter Nkosi says:

    “Aniva faces a maximum fine of K1 million and five years imprisonment.”

    Why prosecute the hyenas under the Gender Equality Act? Better under the Child Care, Justice and Protection Act, which has a higher term of imprisonment term of 10 years.

    “S80:–No person shall subject a child to a social or customary practice that is harmful to the health or general development of the child.

    “S83:–A person who contravenes sections 80, 81 and 82 commits an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment tor ten (10) years.”

  8. The Analyst says:

    O……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….O
    The lawyer who is to defend Aniva, is of questionable mental and moral standing . . .
    . . . Yes, we all know and agree that it is a lawyer’s duty to defend clients but, “Sometimes, one must follow one’s conscience and not one’s duty.” – Tiresius (Atlantis)
    ………………………………………………………………………
    And its quite surprising to see some people (here on Nyasatimes) asking for unconditional release of Aniva, on the premise that Aniva (as a hyena) never went into kraals; but the mother/father goats willingly gave their young goats for Aniva’s uninterrupted 3-day chewing.
    . . . What such people are forgetting, however; is that wrong is either mala in se (wrong in itself) or mala prohibita (wrong because it it prohibited). Now . . .
    . . . The moment Aniva knew his blood is reactive, wasnt it his responsibility to tell the foolish parents that his crocodile is no longer interested? Isn’t his failure to declare this liability a wrong in itself – malum in se?
    . . . More so, regardless of culture or ignorance; Aniva’s crocodile used to swim in shallow pools tagged 12 or 11 or single digits. Is this not defilement?, which is malum prohibita?
    . . . So on what basis should Aniva be released, as others suggest? ignorance? is this an alibi, anyway?
    ………………………………………………………………………
    “Kill one to warn a hundred.” – Chinese Proverb
    . . . Aniva must be locked up, for a very long time. Munthu opanda chisoni. Kupha ana! Zowawa kwambiri!
    . . . Also, one or two parents and /chiefs must be locked up for a year or two, to warn the rest.
    O………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..O

    1. Mr. Analyst it is not about someone’s conscious but rather satisfying evidence in the court of Law, I thought you were a learned guy but your judgement is impaired with emotions and feelings, a court case is about logical arguments. It does not matter whether Aniva is caught red-handed in the eyes of common people but according to the law he is not guilty until proven guilty by the court which is why any one can come to represent him as a defense lawyer(just reminding you)

      1. The Analyst says:

        O………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..O
        Finale,
        . . . Lawyers defend clients on pretence that they (lawyers) do not know whether the client is guilty or not. This pretence, is a lie. To see that this is a lie, the lawyer already has a goal in mind (proving that the client is innocent); yet his willingness to participate in a case is premised on pretence of not knowing whether the client is guilty or not. It takes conscience (a person’s moral sense of right and wrong), for any lawyer to accept to defend a client.
        . . . You may wish to know also, that laws are built not only on the basis of whats fair or just or logical; but also right or wrong; Thus, court of law and consciense, are mirror-imaged.
        . . . This discussion could (can) be very interesting, if you just presented (present) the basis on which the lawyer will defend Aniva; countering what I have presented (above)
        . . . Otherwise, though any lawyer can defend Aniva, it doesnt mean that the lawyer’s moral standing is not questionable.
        O……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….O

  9. moyenda says:

    its unfortunate that someone is feeding this hyena a stupid idea of pleading not guilty. imagine if his lawyer had a daughter and someone defiled and infected her with hiv deliberately..We all need to be sobber and let the hyena rot in jail..he is heartless and deserves no sympathy or compasion of any sort…overall, these stupid cultural practices must end..

    1. kkilembe says:

      There is no complainant in this case. The presidential directive prejudiced the case. NIB should have bribed some of the girls to lodge a complaint. I dont see how this fisis will be found guilty because the state has a mountain to climb to produce convincing evidence. The people who hired him will deny ever doing so. Stupid Malawi government.

      1. The Analyst says:

        O…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O
        Kkilembe . . .
        . . . I Wish you knew that a complaint doesnt only have to come from the victims themselves. Any one can complain (including the State) and thus no need to bribe anyone.
        . . . I wish you knew also, that bribes (in whatever form or magnitude) are wrong and thus you wudnt suggest (even remotely) that NIB (or whoever) could have first bribed the girls.
        . . . Yes, the state may have a mountain to climb (trying to prove, beyond doubts with limits of reasonableness) but I wish you knew that having a mountain to climb doesnt necessarily mean the mountain is unclimbable. And on burden of proof, you will see some of these girls being paraded, if you keep watching this space.
        . . . Wish you had been following this case, you would have known that the man already pleaded guilty to the charges, but just wants someone to help lessen the penalty.
        . . . And on the people who hired him denying it, wish you knew that burden of truth, can always be exercised; even if one denies doing something.
        . . . Wishes are many, but time is of essence, But how I wish Kilembe, how I wish . . .
        O…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………O

      2. Chilu says:

        If u attempt to commit suicide u get prosecuted, don’t u?. Who is the victim here?

  10. Mbuya says:

    Uyu si Hyena ayi koma NYENGA. He must rot in Jail.

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