Human Rights lawyer Alexious Kamangila says preliminary investigation has revealed that Police tricked Mussa John into pleading guilty of Chamba possession by claiming that the court was going to release him upon a plea of guilty.
Kamangila has taken up the case of Mussa John in seeking review of the ruling in which John was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with hard labour for possessing Chamba.
Last week, Limbe’s Senior Resident Magistrate Byson Masonga slapped the 19-year old John with eight years jail term for being found with 78 plastic bags of chamba weighing 134 kilograms. Mussa “pleaded guilty” to the charge.
However, the sentence has provoked a public outcry with the majority saying the punishment is just too much despite the Senior Resident Magistrate Masonga indicating that this is to deter would-be-offenders.
Kamangila told Malawi24 that his preliminary investigation reveals that John is actually 18 not 19 and that he was tortured by the police who as well tricked him to plead guilty claiming the court was going to release him upon a plea of guilty.
The revelations corroborate claims by Mussa’s mother who accused the police of beating her son and threatening him to confess that the illegal drugs were his.
Meanwhile, Kamangila who is also Legal Clinic Manager and Reprieve Fellow, has offered himself to take up the matter by appealing for a review on the punishment.
“There have been a lot of Calls for me to take up this case. I will happily take this matter and will do the needful as a response to my moral conscious. Injustice to one is an Injustice to all. Moreso for a fresh youth,” said Kamangila.
The lawyer further said the court was not supposed to pass that stiff punishment on the teenager on grounds that the cannabis for which John was convicted on was not in his possession.
While giving an example of Castel Malawi boss Herve Milhade who was only fined K1 million for cultivating Cannabis in his compound, counsel Kamangila added that it is very unfortunate that the Malawi Justice System continues to be discriminatory in sentencing.
He further indicated that this is the same reason he advocates for abolishment of death penalty claiming the rich always do everything to avoid custodial sentence as well as the gallows.
“This case, with reference to the Castel Malawi Boss, does it convince you now that the Death Penalty is discriminatorily applied disproportionately against the poor? If the Rich find a way to avoid a Jail sentence and the Court shamelessly sentence a ‘child’ to 8 years imprisonment after pleading guilty, what more where a life is at stake?
“The rich do everything to avoid the gallows and there is enough evidence to this. And so, death penalty is Unconstitutional, just on that ground that it is discriminatorily applied. Let’s join hands to Abolish the death penalty,” he added.
Kamangila then urged Malawians to always think of ways of contributing substantially towards addressing criminal justice system challenges rather than just talking on social media .
Meanwhile, rights group Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) through its Executive Director Victor Mhango, says they will intervene on the matter and will on Monday meet the convict.
On the other hand, social media influencer Gerald Kampanikiza is mobilizing financial resources towards John’s appeal, a move which Malawians are supporting wholeheartedly.
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