Mzimba First Grade Magistrate Court HAS set free three senior citizens on the basis of old age after pleading guilty to the charge of cultivating Indian Hemp locally known as chamba in the district.
Lyton Lunda, 91, his two sons Nervason, 74, and Alufeyo, 61, were arrested Thursday last week at Nthapangwa Lunda Village, T/A Kampingo Sibande in the district.
On Monday, police prosecutor Sergeant Snowden Chimombo told the court that the three were arrested following a tip by one of the members in the village.
“The police uprooted about 300 plants of cannabis which were found in their garden. The hemp was taken to Lunyangwa research station where it was tested and weighed 456 kilograms, including stems, seeds and roots,” Chimombo said.
The Lundas pleaded guilty to the charge of violating regulation 6(1) as read with 19(1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act and were subsequently convicted.
Chimombo said though they were all first offenders and aged, there was need for a stiffer punishment to serve as a lesson to other ganja farmers in the district.
“The convicts are old people who are responsible in society. The first accused is the village headman which means he was supposed to act responsibly and be exemplary to young ones,” he said.
In mitigation, they all pleaded with the court to exercise leniency saying they are aged and responsible for orphans.
They further promised the court never to engage in Marijuana farming again.
In his ruling, First Grade Magistrate George Longwe told the court that the offence is very serious and needed a stiffer penalty.
He, however, said the court considered charging them using section 340 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code.
According to the section, for first offenders, before imposing a prison sentence, a court must, by a process of elimination, rule out that a non-custodial sentence is not the proper way of dealing with the offender.
In deciding that question, the section further says the sentencing court may regard the youth, old age, character, home surroundings, health or mental condition of the accused, among other factors.
“The offense is very serious, but these are first offenders, and elderly; the oldest being 91 and the youngest being 61. In addition, they have repented that they will not do it again,” Longwe said.
He, therefore, used section 337(1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code and discharged them on condition that they should not committee any offence within 12 months.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :