A First Grade Magistrate’s in Malawi’s eastern district of Balaka court has ordered 29 people to pay a fine of K2, 500.00 each or in default serve two months imprisonment with hard labour for being found loitering at night within the town.
Police Prosecutor Sub Inspector Mercy Chande told the court that the suspects were arrested after being found loitering within Balaka Town on the night of 20th June, 2013.
Sub Inspector Chande said the suspects failed to give a convincing reason they were found loitering at night and this made the Police to strongly suspect them that they were there for illegal purposes and charged them with a case of rogues and vagabonds which is contrary to section 184 of the Penal code.
30 of the suspects pleaded guilty to the offence and the state asked the court to give the offenders stiffer sentences so that they should learn to be responsible citizens and that the tendency of loitering within the town at night can make the town prone to crime.
Chande further said giving them a stiffer sentence will be a lesson to them and would be offenders but the suspects asked the court to forgive them considering that they are first offenders and that they have families to look after.
Passing judgement, First Grade Magistrate Damson Banda concurred with the Police that the suspects need to be responsible and that the tendency of loitering at night within the town can make the town prone to crime.
He therefore ordered them to pay a fine of K2, 500.00 each, and in default serve 2 months imprisonment with hard labour. He said he has given them such a sentence so that it should be a lesson to them and would be offenders.
The court is yet to pass its verdict on the juvenile suspects who were arrested together with the elders and the two suspects who pleaded not guilty to the offence and were released on court bail after paying K1, 000.00
Meanwhile 27 of the suspects have paid the fine while three have failed to pay and are expected to serve a two months imprisonment with hard labour.
All the suspects reside within Balaka Township and six are female while 24 are male.