A 34-year-old Zambian national has landed himself in one of Malawi’s prisons after being found guilty of stealing construction materials for a Pentecostal Church in Chitipa District.
Chtipa Magistrate Court Monday sentenced Davie Simphamba, 34, to five years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for stealing the materials from Masuka Pentecostal Holiness Association Church in the area of Senior Chief Kameme.
Police prosecutor Lucy Kamkwete told the court that construction materials at the Church’s project site have been missing for a long time but the contractor and community members failed to trace the one behind the theft.
Kamkwete said materials that often went missing were wire nails and hardwood planks which sell like hot cakes in neighbouring Zambia and Tanzania.
She said Simphamba was ambushed by alert members of the community on the night of August 5, 2017 when he broke into the church building and stole 40 planks and hid them at a nearby bush for proper dispatch to intended destination.
“When some residents discovered the planks at the bush, a group of people was mobilized and camped near the planks that Saturday night which led to manhandling of Simphamba who came to transfer the materials,” Kamkwete said.
Simphamba pleaded guilty to the charge of breaking into a building and committing a felony there in, which Kamkwete said was a serious crime.
She then asked the court to hand down a stiffer penalty on Simphamba to scare away foreign criminals who terrorize Malawians living near boundaries with neighbouring countries.
“The crime he committed was tantamount to frustrating development of the area which government cannot condone,” Kamkwete said.
Presiding First Grade Magistrate Billy Ngosi described the Zambian as a hardcore criminal, going by his courage to commit crimes such as housebreaking and stealing in a foreign country.
“Let me concur with prosecution to the effect that the accused has displayed highest degree of criminality by plucking courage to commit a serious crime in a foreign country,” Ngosi said.
He assured people of Chitipa which shares boundary with Zambia and Tanzania that the courts would ensure that their lives and property are always safe by meting out tough sentences on foreigners who terrorize the areas.
Ngosi laughed off Simphamba’s mitigation that recently he lost a wife and, therefore, he is the only one to look after his two children.
The magistrate argued that if Simphamba realized that he had such a responsibility, he was supposed to think carefully about the consequences of the crime he planned to commit.
“I therefore, sentence you to 60 months imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence will serve as a deterrent to foreigners who take Malawi as easy destination to commit crimes,” he said.
Simphamba hails from the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Kathyethye in Isoka District of Zambia. (By Ed-Grant Ndoza
Chitipa, August 30, Mana)
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