Six people accused of attacking police officers on duty in daring circumstances when they robbed Airtel Malawi Limited of tower batteries in Blantyre have each been sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour.
Blantyre senior resident magistrate Viva Nyimba found the six —BakaliYusufu, JameManda, MavutoChingoma, Lael Kenneth, Rajab Yusufu and Samuel John—guilty of an offence of robbery which attracts a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
The six were accused of attacking two female police officers guarding an Airtel tower in Ndirande Township, Blantyre where they stole four batteries valued at K460 000, two cellphones belonging to the police officers and used violence to rob the police officers of a gun.
The offence was committed in August 2013 but they were arrested on similar charges after robbing Airtel of four other batteries in Soche-Chinyonga towers in September.
They denied the charge but the court observed that there was direct evidence that the six convicts stole the batteries.
But five of the six, in their mitigation before the sentence was passed, pleaded for leniency complaining that conditions in prison were unbearable.
They pointed at lack of space, food and sex among men and illnesses of different types.
But Nyimba observed that the issues were not mitigating factors rather complaints which can be attended to by prison authorities, or Prison Inspectorate usually chaired by a Supreme Court of Appeal judge.
He added that if the conduct of the convicts was not put to rest, it would scare away investors that need to do business in Malawi.