Convict escapes from police custody on sentencing day

A 19-year-old boy convicted of sexually abuse and impregnating a 14-year-old girl escaped from police custody in Phalombe on the day when a court was expected to deliver its sentence.

Our investigations have revealed the convict who is still at large is 19-year-old James Sambuka and hails from the area of traditional authority Kaledzera in the district.

Sambuka was found guilty of defiling a girl under age of 16 whom he also impregnated.

On 13th February 2020, the day he appeared before Phalombe First Grade Magistrate Damson Banda, the pregnancy of the 14-year-old victim was about 20 weeks old.

During his appearance in the court, Sambuka pleaded guilty to the defilement charge levelled against him which is contrary to section 138 (a) of the penal code.

Then the matter was adjourned to Tuesday of 18th February this year for sentencing.

Confirming the matter, Magistrate Banda told Malawi24 that when the court was ready to start its business of that day, the State Prosecutor who was handling the case came with the news that the convict had escaped.

“It is true indeed that this happened, the person was convicted and the matter was adjourned to another day so that the court could prepare its sentence. But on the sentencing day when the court was ready I was told that the convict had escaped in the morning of that day when the police officers had taken him out from the cell to sweep around the police station’s premises,” said Banda.

He then described the development as sad and he wondered if officers who were watching him as he was sweeping were vigilant.

“It is very sad that they took the convict to sweep because he knew that the offence he committed is a serious one since he’s been hearing how such cases are handled. I don’t know how he managed to escape and what the police officers watching him were doing, did they scream for help? I don’t know,” added the Magistrate.

Banda concluded by saying that he doesn’t know if the convict will be found since in most cases when suspects escape in the district they cross the border to go to neighbouring country, Mozambique.

When asked about the matter, Phalombe Police Station officer in charge John Nkhoma declined to comment as he said he knows nothing about the matter.

“I don’t know anything about this matter,” Nkhoma said in a telephone interview.

This development comes at a time when cases of defilement are on increase in the district. By mid-March this year, 13 cases of defilement had been recorded.

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