First Grade Magistrate Fred Juma Chilowetsa sentenced 58-year-old Godfrey Mkundi to 24 months imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for contempt of court.
This occurred on 2 May, 2013 at Nkhunga Magistrate Court where a civil case of land dispute was heard. The case was between Mkundi and his relatives and was presided over by Chilowetsa from Nkhotakota Magistrate Court.
Nkhunga Police Spokesperson, Austin Kaunda said when the Magistrate ordered both parties to go and visit the land in dispute, Mkundi protested by saying that his witnesses were not present.
“This did not go well with the Magistrate who travelled all the way from Nkhotakota Boma only to be waiting for Mkundi’s witnesses who come from the same area with Mkundi.
“The Magistrate opted to proceed with the case, but Mkundi became angry and violent to the extent of insulting the Magistrate and then grabbed court clerk by the neck,” he said.
Kaunda said the Magistrate ordered immediate arrest of Mkundi which was achieved after struggles.
“He was instantly charged with contempt of court. In mitigation, the convict pleaded for leniency, saying that he is sick and looks after orphans,” Kaunda said.
The Magistrate told him that the offence attracts a maximum penalty of three years IHL but taking his mitigation into consideration, he was slapped with 24 months IHL to serve as deterrent to others who tend to interrupt court session.
Kaunda said the convict is ready to appeal against the judgment.
The land dispute has been postponed to a later date.
Mkundi hails from Nyanje village in area of Traditional Authority Kanyenda in Nkhotakota.
Land disputes have risen in Nkhotakota due to an increase in population in agricultural activities like irrigation and expansion of sugarcane production that has brought an increase in use of the arable land.