Defilement convict freed for being young

Dedza Senior Resident Magistrate Clemence Chamwenda has freed a married millionaire car dealer ‘aged 19’ who was convicted of defiling a child.

Chamwenda has freed the man, Timothy Mathias, on the basis that he is young.

Malawi24 understands that Mathias committed the crime late last month at Mchepa, Kaphuka in the district.

Mathias, who told police he is aged 19,  raped a child aged 15 and when the matter was reported to police he went on the run. He later approached the child’s family and gave them K1 million to withdraw the case.

The family, however, took the money to police as evidence that Mathias was trying to bribe them.

After Mathias was arrested,  trial was heard and Chamwenda convicted Mathias on 26 August.

However, instead of sentencing the convict, Magistrate Chamwenda thought otherwise and dismissed the charge, a decision which is said to have emanated from section 337 of the penal code.

The section gives power to the court, the presiding judge in particular, to decide on dismissing a charge especially when the accused is a youth, old aged, mentally ill and many other reasons.

“Where in any trial for an offence, the court thinks that charge is proved but is of the opinion that, having regard to the youth, old age, character antecedent, home surroundings, health or mental conditions of the accused, or to the fact that the offender has not previously committed an offence, or to the nature of the offence, or to the extenuating circumstances in which the offence was committed, it is inexpedient to inflict any punishment, the court may.

“(a) without proceeding to conviction make an order dismissing the charge, after such admonition caution to the offender as to the court seems fit,” reads part of the section.

In his ruling in the case numbered 470/22, Chamwenda also forfeited the K1 million to the child’s family.

Surprisingly on the same day, Chamwenda sentenced Rajab Costa, aged 22, to 21 years imprisonment with hard labour for committing a similar offence.

Timothy Mathias comes from Chimbiya in Dedza district.