Criticism for ‘lenient’ sentence to Malawi sex abuser – MHRC

Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has criticised a Magistrate’s ”unduly lenient” sentence of a Balata based man Richard Mandala Chisale after being found guilty of two charges of abduction and defilement.

The Zomba Resident Magistrate Court convicted Mandala and slapped him with a 42 and 36 months Imprisonment with Hard Labour (IHL) sentence.

Mandala Chisale was allegedly in custody of six girls of the ages of below 16 for over one month and in the process sexually abused the girls.

But the sentence has sparked criticism.

Kalinde: Unduly lenient sentence
Kalinde: Unduly lenient sentence

A statement released by MHRC on Thursday 14th August, 2014 made available by Nyasa Times, MHRC contained a torrent of criticism to the court for being lenient to Chisale whose sentence it deemed in sufficient under state laws which attract a maximum of life imprisonment.

“The Commission has noted with concern that following a finding of guilty and the conviction of the accused person on both counts of defilement on, on 7th August, the court on 12th August, 2014 imposed lenient sentences of 42 months and 36 months Imprisonment with Hard Labour, to run concurrently.,” reads the statement in part signed by Sophie Asimenye Kalinde who is the Chairperson of the Commission.

“In terms of section 138 of the Penal Code, the offence of defilement carries a maximum of a life sentence. The commission notes that the court misguided itself on the issue of consent in cases of defilement and the issues of aggravating circumstances Vis-avis mitigating circumstances hence the outcome of the case,” adds the statement.

The Commission has however vowed to take appropriate steps to engage relevant authorities to immediately invoke the necessary procedures for the review of the case.

MHRC has however already engaged the Balaka District Social Welfare office on the matter.

The state funded rights commission further faults the court for violating Section 23 (5) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and Article 34 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which provide for the rights of child’s right to be protected from sexual exploitation as also indicated in the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act 2010.

Richard Mandala Chisale who hails from Kandengwe Village in the Area of Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka Dstrict was arrested in June this year.

The matter was at first handled at Balaka Magistrate Court before it was moved to Zomba.

Many people commenting on Nyasa Times article about his sentencing  noted that  the seriousness of the offence justified imposing a lengthy jail sentence.

The argued that the sentence was “far too low” and there were calls to increase the sentence.


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