The Senior Resident Magistrate Court in Mzuzu on Thursday fined 13 taxi drivers for staging demonstrations.
The Court sitting before Senior Resident Magistrate Godfrey Nyirenda, heard through police prosecutor Sub-Inspector Lloyd Banda that the drivers took to the streets mobilizing other taxi operators to demonstrate against the government’s order of reducing seating capacity in their taxi vehicles as a preventive measure against the spread of covid 19.
The court heard that the convicts blocked M1 Mzuzu Lilongwe road at Katoto taxi rank before being apprehended by the police.
Banda in court played a recorded video of the demonstration from a Techno POP 2 mobile cellphone owned by a woman who was part of the group.
The recording captured the police trying to control the situation but from the background the woman castigated the officers.
The 13 people pleaded guilty to the charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace which infringes section 181 of the penal code.
Banda prayed with the court to mete out a stiff sentence despite being first offenders claiming that their acts posed threats not only to the general public but also to the police.
He further prayed with the court to have the cellphone forfeited to the government, to deter other would be offenders.
The court concurred with the state that the conduct by the convicts was unacceptable in society.
The magistrate then ordered the convicts to pay a fine of K2,500 (Two thousand five hundred) each or in default serve a custodial sentence of two and half months imprisonment with hard labor.
The presiding magistrate, then applied section 149 of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, and ordered forfeiture of the Techno POP 2 cellphone to the government. The cellphone has been given to Mzuzu Police Station where it is to be used at Custody Office.
Meanwhile, all the convicts have paid the fine.