Malawi court frees ex-MCP MP on pedophilia acts: Child activists, chiefs angry

Malawian child rights activists and residents of central district of Kasungu have reacted furiously to a court bail given to a former Member of Parliament in the area who is accused of abducting and defiling two under-aged girls.

The ex-Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislature, Rodgers Sithole,  is alleged to have committed the crime last month and went into hiding until last week when he surrendered himself to police.

But the Kasungu Magistrate Court released him on bail Friday, a development that has angered child rights activists, chiefs as well as the residents who have collectively vowed not to take the matter lying down.

People in the area have anxiously been following the issue to see what the police would do to the old man, whose conduct has become an issue of concern.justice

Aged 69, the ex-MP is alleged to have abducted the two standard six girls at Chatoloma Trading Centre where he operates his businesses and drove them to Northern Region city of Mzuzu and lakeshore district of Nkhata Bay to have fun with them.

They claim this is not the first time Sithole had been involved in such incidents but he always uses his status to duck the law.

From the north, the suspect, who owns the popular Mbapapi Private Secondary School in Kasungu, drove the girls back to Kasungu and booked them at Nkhamenya Lodge where he defiled them in a row.

He is also reported to have expressed his desire to marry one of the two to become his 13th wife.

Police had been hunting for the former law maker since parents of the girls reported the issue to them.

When he appeared before the Kasungu Magistrate Court, the suspect was duly given bail on three grounds of wanting to meet a doctor because he suffers from a neck problem, hiring a private lawyer for the case as well as running his private school and take care of it as schools are about to open.

But one of the child rights’ activists, Lucky Mbewe, questioned the reasoning of the magistrate in releasing the suspect on bail.

“The grounds for granting the suspect bail are not serious and very childish,” Mbewe, who is Chairperson of the NGO Gender Network responsible for Permanent Child Rights Protection Committee told Nyasa Times.

Mbewe said he expected Sithole to be an exemplary parent considering that he was a former legislature and a learned person capable enough to advocate child rights.

Sithole, who is also reported to be on ARVs drugs, served as an MP for Kasungu North East between 2004 and 2009 and reports, and before committing the crime he had expressed interest to contest again on MCP ticket in next year’s polls.

“Committing two serious offences of abduction and defiling two children in a row and we see such a person being given a court bail,” wondered Mbewe.

Abduction is contrary to Section 259 of Penal Code and the charge draws a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment while defilement attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and is contrary to
section 138 (1) of the penal code.

He added: “We promise to take this seriously and we will engage those in authority either at the police headquarters or the head of judiciary to see to it how they can assist us.”

Mbewe further said if it does not work to their advantage, they will seek the intervention of the minister responsible who has also shown seriousness and passion about cases of girls’ welfare.

The child rights activist also wondered why the court released him on bail because the move has also put his life at risk.

Chiefs and residents in the area have already issued a warning that if the man is not taken back to police and continues hang around in the area they will deal with him.

“Even if it’s his right to be given bail but the police or the judiciary should have been considerate in terms of his security because by giving him bail they are putting his life at risk.

“I look at that particular magistrate to be someone who is not serious to situations because assuming chiefs and residents gang up and take the law into their hands, can you blame the people, honestly for me I can’t blame them,” he declared.

Two months ago, he was also engulfed in another incident when he eloped with 15-year-girl from the same area and hid her in Lilongwe.

And when the girl’s father wanted to report the matter to police his wife reportedly blocked her. It was later discovered the wife allegedly pocketed K30 000 from the ex-MP to shut her mouth.

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