Nsanje Magistrates’ Court on Friday convicted an HIV-positive man accused of having sex with more than 100 girls and women in a series of traditional cleansing rituals after being found guilty for having unprotected sex and convicted of “engaging in harmful practices”.
Principal Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi found Aniva, 45, guilty on two counts, saying he had concluded that “sexual cleansing violates the dignity of widows”.
“It is clear … that the state has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was engaging in harmful practices,” Nebi said in his ruling.
“I find you guilty and convict you accordingly,” the magistrate said.
Aniva was prosecuted after publicly speaking about his role as a “hyena” in a BBC documentary. He said he had sex with more than 100 women and underage girls and not disclosing his HIV status.
President Peter Mutharika had wanted Aniva tried for defiling young girls, but none came forward to testify against him.
Instead Aniva was tried for “harmful cultural practice” under section five of Malawi’s Gender Equality Act for having sex with new widows.
Two women testified against him.
The practice of “widow cleansing”, when a widow must have sex after her husband dies, was outlawed a few years ago.
State prosecutor Chiyembekezo Banda asked the court to impose a lengthy prison sentence for Aniva, saying he was probably responsible for the spread of HIV.
Michael Goba Chipeta, Aniva’s defence lawyer, asked for a suspended sentence saying Aniva was a first offender and did the offence under the influence of the community.
Chipeta appealed for Aniva to not be used as “a sacrificial lamb”, saying “the publicity he has attracted is punishment enough”.
Magistrate Nebi said sentencing would be on 22 November.
Aniva faces a maximum of five years in jail.
He told reporters before being taken to prison that he was not worried about being convicted but hope to given non-custodial sentence.
His second wife, Sophia, who was in court, was in tears and declined to grat interview.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :