Samson Kaumba has become the first convict to be slapped with life imprisonment in relation to a horrible spate of discriminatory attacks and ritual killings which has left people with albinism at the risk of extinction in Malawi.
Judge Dingiswayo Madise ordered Kaumba, 33, to spend the rest of his life in prison with no opportunity for pardon when the convict appeared in the High Court in Mzuzu today.
The landmark ruling marks the conclusion of a case in which Kaumba and Fiskani Mtambo stood accused of coaxing Morton Juma, 11, into a bush where they hacked him on the neck and left biceps in a shocking episode of the infamous killings in September last year.
The court acquitted Mtambo because the state did not prove his involvement beyond reasonable doubt, but senior chief state advocate Dzikondianthu Malunda embraced the sentence meted out on Kaumba as a cause for celebration as the country grapples to clampdown on the killings.
“Justice has won,” Malunda told reporters outside the court.
However, there was double victory for Morton who dropped out of school due to the prevailing climate of fear as the judge announced that Mzuzu Academy had offered him scholarship to continue his education at the prestigious institution on the northeastern margins of Mzuzu.
In his reasoning, the state lawyer said attempted murder is no different from cold-blood murder as both are fuelled with the intention to kill and the victim did not survive by the mercy of his assailants but by chance and divine intervention.
In mitigation, defence lawyer Chimwemwe Chithope described the convict as a first offender, youthful, sickly and deserving of mercy, saying the offence was “a mere attempt”.
He asked the court to treat the attempted murder of persons with albinism like any other based on the principal of equality before the law.
The judge overruled the calls for a lesser sentence but rhetorically nodded to the legal myth that maximum sentences are reserved for worst offenders.
“Today I have that worst offender before me,” said the judge as he admonished the convict and his unknown accomplices for setting out to kill Morton like a chicken or goat.