Mangochi Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday sentenced seven people (3 men and 4 women) to three years imprisonment with hard for operating initiation camp during school period.
The offence contravenes section 80 as read with section 83 of Child Care, Protection and Justice Act.
During court proceedings, Mangochi Police Prosecutor, Sub Inspector Emmanuel Kambwiri told the court that, the District Commissioner Raphael Piringu was tipped off by concerned citizens that last weekend the convicts were conducting
initiation ceremony for four male children of 4 to 6 years old at Mwanjombe Village in Traditional Authority Chowe, before the closing of school’s third term and without the consent from the authorities.
The matter was reported to Police whereby Mobile Police Officers from Malamia Camp stormed the camp and arrested the convicts on the night of November 8, 2021.
The seven were arrested for violating right to education and by-laws concerning initiation ceremonies which were put in place by the DC’s office.
Appearing in court, the accused persons who include Village Headman Mwanjombe, two initiation camp commanders and parents pleaded guilty to the charge of harmful cultural practices.
In mitigation, they asked for leniency, saying that they are breadwinners to their families who would suffer if sent to prison.
However, Prosecutor Kambwiri reminded the court that as much as cultural practices need to be respected, the convicts interfered and violated right to education by withdrawing some of the victims from school in order to be initiated.
Kambwiri further pleaded for stiff penalties to bring order and send strong message to members of the public.
Passing judgement, Senior Resident Magistrate Rodrick Michongwe concurred with the state, hence the 3-year sentence to each of them to serve as a lesson to other would be offenders.
All convicts hail from Traditional Authority Chowe in Mangochi.