What was an appeal for leniency turned out to be a painful experience for Simon Kamwendo, 44, a traditional leader in Lilongwe’s Mchesi Township, as the High Court last week added three more years on his initial nine-year sentence for defilement.
High Court judge Charles Mkandawire said he increased Kamwendo’s sentence to deter others from committing similar offences.
Kamwendo, who defiled an eight-year-old on September 16 2013, appealed to the court for a review of his nine-year sentence on the basis that the State did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he committed the offence.
Furthermore, the convict—who had no legal representation—said the conviction was based on hearsay evidence and that the court had passed a harsh sentence.
In his ruling, Mkandawire added three more years to the initial sentence to make it 12 years imprisonment with hard labour.
Said the judge: “With regard to the [initial] sentence, I see nothing wrong with it. The offence of defilement is a very serious one and this offence is becoming very common.
“It is also a shame that the appellant, who holds a position of trust in his location as a chief, should be found committing such an offence. He is an old man who should have treated the victim as his granddaughter.
“I actually found that the trial court was lenient with him. I, therefore, enhance the sentence from nine years to 12 years imprisonment with hard labour.”
According to a charge sheet seen at the court, Kamwendo is described as a frequent customer of beer near the place where the eight-year-old and her parents live in Mchesi.
On the night of the incident, at about 9pm, Kamwendo is said to have asked the victim’s friend to go and have a soft drink from inside the house.
However, when the friend returned, she found that her friend and Kamwendo had disappeared and when she went to look for them, she found Kamwendo was on top of the victim. Kamwendo then chased the friend.
The victim’s uncle got suspicious when he found the victim’s friend outside the house at such a time of the day and when asked, she explained to him what she saw, reads the court documents detailing background to the offence.
Despite Kamwendo disputing all this, a medical report indicated that the victim had been raped.
According to Mkandawire, children as young as eight are vulnerable and must be protected from such people, hence the enhancement. The sentence left Kamwendo weeping right in the dock.