Malawi court acquits police officer on 10-year jail term

The High Court in Mzuzu has acquitted a Mzuzu based police officer  who was serving a 10 year jail term for robbing a Congolese national MK100,000 cash and assaulting her in the process at Lusangazi Roadblock in Mzuzu in March this year because the evidence did not support a conviction.

Judge Dingiswayo Madise entirely agreed with the defense in quashing and setting aside the lower Court’s conviction and sentence because “the sentences of the lower court were manifestly excessive and wrong in principle”

The Cop, 31-year-old Sergeant Friday Kalonjere had so far served four months.

The Mzuzu Magistrate Court slapped Kalonjere with a total of 16 years imprisonment with hard labor but Kalonjere through Mzuzu based lawyer Christon Ghambi of CHRAM and Associates appealed against both sentence and conviction.

Ghambi: Appeal successful
Ghambi: Appeal successful

The Court heard that a Minibus Driver coming from Mzimba direction to Mzuzu picked Dorothy Matabishi along the way.

According to the state, the Congolese national Mrs. Adolophine Matabish was coming from a Traditional Healer where she had left her sick child and was heading to Mzuzu to buy some provisions.

“But when the minibus approached the roadblock, the driver alighted and approached Kalonjere telling that he had picked a foreigner. Kalonjere then called the woman behind the roadblock office, where he searched her handbag.

“He found nothing. But proceeded to frisk her and found MK100,000 tied to her waist. In the struggle to untie the money he injured Matabishi on the waist with keys and took the money,” the court heard.

However, in his appeal Kalonjere argued that the subordinate Court erred in law and principle to allow a witness with interest to interpreted for the Court what the complainant said in Court occasioning unfair trial.

“The Court also erred in law to convict Kalonjere when the evidence against him was not corroborated or proved beyond reasonable doubt,” Ghambi  said.

He aargued that the Court also erred in law to find a conviction against Kalonjere without identification.

“Alternatively, the learned Magistrate erred in law by failing to consider mitigating factors which were in Kalonjere’s favor during sentencing,” Ghambi said.

At the time of Kalonjere’s arrest Mzuzu Police Station Public Relations Officer Sergeant Maurice Chapola disassociated the Cop from the regular members of the Malawi Police Service saying he committed the offence as an individual and not as Malawi Police Service.

“This should stand as a signal to all Police officers that they will not be spared if they commit offences. That is why when allegations of robbery and assault were brought against Kalonjere we went ahead to arrest him so that he faces the law like everybody else,” Chapola said.

During sentencing Banda said despite the fact that Kalonjere was a first offender, the Court could not exercise leniency, saying as a police officer  the convict had disregarded his noble duty of protecting life and property by committing crime.

Banda said the fact that the MK100,000 was not recovered as a disadvantage to the convict’s mitigation for leniency.

“It is the duty of Courts not to back or encourage Police Officers to commit such offences. The sentences should also serve to protect the reputation of the Malawi Police Service, which in the Court’s view works professionally despite a few individuals within its ranks who dents its image,” Banda said.

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