A young man aged 18 years who was facing defilement charges on allegations that he was sleeping with another child, a girl aged 15, has been acquitted.
The case was brought before Senior Resident Magistrate Elijah Blackboard Dazilikwiza Pachalo Daniels and in court the two admitted that they had sex.
In his defence, the boy said he believed that the girl was 17 years old. On her part, the girl told the court that this was her third sexual relationship. She further said that her parents also wanted her to get married to the boy who was on trial.
In his ruling delivered on June 21, Pachalo said the state failed to dismiss that the boy acted under a mistaken but reasonable belief that the victim was not 15-year-old old when the two had sex. Pachalo added that the state failed to prove the offence of defilement against the boy.
The magistrate then acquitted the boy and ordered his immediate release from prison where he has been kept for eight months since his arrest.
“We must only convict deserving offenders where the facts permit and we must not hesitate to so do and where there is a defense available as is provided for by statute, we must resolve that in favor of the accused person,” said Pachalo.
The Malawi Constitution defines a child as anyone below the age 18 years.