Balaka First Grade Magistrate’s Court has convicted and sentenced Mastone Mussa, 31, to five years imprisonment with hard labour after he was found guilty of human trafficking contrary to Section 14 of Trafficking Act.
Police Public Relations Officer for Balaka Distruct, Edith Kachotsa, said law enforcers arrested the convict on February 9 2018 at Ngwangwa Filling Station during their routine night patrols.
Mussa, who was driving a three tonne Toyota Dyna registration number SA 5586, had collected money from passengers in his vehicle heading to South Africa, according to police.
“None of the travellers on board had any relevant travel documents which raised police’s suspicion leading to the arrest of the accused,” Kachotsa said.
She further said the accused pleaded guilty to the charge and the court convicted him on that plea of guilty.
In mitigation, Kachotsa said the convict pleaded with the court to exercise leniency when passing its sentence on grounds that he has a family to look after, which would suffer if sent to jail.
In his submission, Police Prosecutor Sub Inspector George Kafumbula asked for a stiffer sentence, arguing that government was losing a lot of money to repatriate deportees whenever they met unfavorable conditions in South Africa.
Passing sentence, Balaka First Grade Magistrate Felix Mandala concurred with the state and gave the convict a five-year custodial sentence, a punishment which he said was meant to send warning to other would – be offenders.
Mussa hails from Chande Village in the area of Traditional Authority Katuli in Mangochi.