A court in Zomba has sentenced a 35-year-old prison warder for supplying SIM cards to a prisoner who used the cards to steal money from mobile money users.
The prison warder has been identified as Steven Ching’anda and he worked at Zomba Maximum Prison.
The court heard through Eastern Region police prosecutor, Asma Katete that Airtel Malawi was going through its records to trace numbers which were involved in fraudulent Airtel Money transactions.
Following the exercise, the company discovered that there was one identity card which was used to register 60 SIM cards which were showing that they were being used inside Zomba Maximum Prison.
Katete further told the court that after thorough investigations, police found that one Mphatso Milonde was the one sending the SIM cards to her husband Patrick Banda (prisoner) through the prison warder, Ching’anda.
The prison warder was arrested and charged with introduction of prohibited articles into the prison contrary to Section 81 (a) of Prison Act, and abuse of office contrary to Section 95 (2) of the Penal Code.
When he appeared before court, he pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against him. The state, however, paraded Banda (the prisoner) and Banda’s wife, Mphatso, who testified about Ching’anda’s involvement.
The prison warder was then found guilty and the state asked for a custodial sentence saying Ching’anda deliberately breached the trust of his employer and that the scheme had led to defrauding of lots of mobile money users.
In mitigation, Ching’anda pleaded with the court for consideration, saying he is a first offender.
Passing judgement, Chief Resident Magistrate Mzondi Mvula concurred with the state and sentenced Ching’anda to 3 months imprisonment with hard labour on first count of introduction of prohibited articles into the prison and 2 years for the second count of abuse of office. The sentences will run concurrently.
Ching’anda hails from Mchezi village in the area of Traditional Authority Mponda in Mangochi District.