Mangochi Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court on Friday sentenced Jabil Rabson, 45, Hassan Kafinolo, 36, and Ajida Seleman aged 32 to two years imprisonment with hard labour each for damaging property worth K87 million at Chipunga Estate in Traditional Authority Bwananyambi in Mangochi.
During court proceedings, Station Prosecution Officer, lnspector Amos Mwase told the court that villagers on January 11, 2022 mobilised themselves and invaded Chipunga Estate claiming that the land belongs to their forefathers.
The villagers chased away estate workers who reported for duties, demolished a fence and burnt down a bridge which was constructed by the said estate.
As if that was not enough, the irate villagers went ahead and cut down Mtangatanga and Bluegum trees on a five acre land, all property worth millions of kwacha.
Prosecutor Mwase added that when police rushed to the scene for intervention, the villagers smashed windscreens of two police motor vehicles.
The three were arrested two weeks later and in court they pleaded not guilty prompting the state to parade seven witnesses who testified against them.
In mitigation, all the convicts pleaded for court’s leniency stating that they are breadwinners and that their families would suffer if sent to prison.
In submission, prosecutor Mwase asked for a stiff penalty observing that the convicts planned to commit the offence as they walked from their respective homes to the estate. He added that they should have thought of consequences before their actions.
Mwase further said the estate invested a lot of money to construct the bridge and grow the trees saying this therefore required a sentence proportional and befitting the crime.
Passing the judgement, Senior Resident Magistrate Rodrick Michongwe concurred with the state hence sentenced each of the convicts to 2-years imprisonment with hard labour to serve as a lesson to other would be offenders.
All convicts hail from Traditional Authority Bwananyambi in Mangochi.