Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Machinga Central member of Parliament (MP) Ellock Maotcha Banda who was serving a six years imprisonment has been cleared on a charge of abducting a 17-year-old girl and walks of out of jail a free man.
Maotcha was convicted after he took the girl who was learning at Chinamwali Private Secondary School in Zomba to Blantyre, staying with her for days without the consent of her parents.
The magistrate used the Child Care and Protection Act when convicting him in September 2015 to six years imprisonment for child abduction and has been at Zomba Prison for 40 months and 13 days.
Handing down the judgment on Tuesday at High Court in Zomba, Judge Redson Kapindu ruled that Banda, who is also former deputy minister of Trade and Industry, did not abduct a child because the 2010 Child Care, Protection and Justice Act, in effect then, defined a child as one who was under 16.
Parliament in 2017 revised Section 23 of the Constitution to define a child as a person aged below 18.
Judge Kapindu said the lower court erred in saying that the girl was a minor based on thinking that anyone below the age of 18 is a minor.
Kapindu said the law says a minor is anyone below the age of 15.
Maotcha filed his appeal in 2015 but it has been heard in 2019 where he has been released.
Nonetheless, the former legislator said he is “grateful to God for everything.”
Maotcha, who comes from Balaka, was a deputy minister under the Bingu wa Mutharika administration.