Court acquits driver who was accused of stealing MTL cables


The First Grade Magistrate Court in Mwanza has set free Emmanuel Mzee, a driver who was arrested after he was found with two people who were carrying Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) cables in Mwanza.

Mzee, who has never been an employee of the company was meeting with two colleagues at a bus depot to collect money they owed him and was not aware that the two had in their bags stolen MTL cables.

While following up on a tip, police concluded that finding the three at the same spot meant that they were all culprits.

The suspect was taken into custody and later to Court where he was charged with the offence of stealing electric communication equipment and damage of electronic communication equipment contrary to Sections 178 (1) and 178 (3) of the Communications Act.

Being an individual with insufficient means to hire a private lawyer, he sought legal aid. He was therefore represented in Court by Senior Legal Aid Advocate Tiwonge Penama.

In April 2023, the Court granted him bail bonded at MK200,000, and a traceable surety was also bonded at MK200,000 cash. He failed to pay the money to satisfy the bail conditions, hence he continued to remain incarcerated throughout the trial.

It was heard in Court through State witnesses that the complainant had recently been experiencing loss and or damage of cables.

Counsel in defence argued that the Prosecution did not provide any evidence to prove that it is Emmanuel Mzee who obtained or damaged the cables that were tendered in Court. There was no evidence pointing to the accused as being the culprit.

It was further argued that the Prosecution failed to prove that the accused person was in possession of the said stolen items. If the Prosecution had found the accused in possession of the stolen items, they could have charged him under Section 178 (2) of the Communications Act which clearly states that a person who is found in possession of stolen electronic communication infrastructure equipment commits an offence and shall, upon conviction, be liable to a fine of MK5,000,000 and to imprisonment for five years

However, the accused was charged under Section 178 (1) on stealing and 178 (3) on damaging/destroying leaving out 178 (2) on possession.

First Grade Magistrate Gladstone Chirundu in making a determination on the matter found the accused not guilty and hence acquitted him, saying the Prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. None of the witnesses, according to the Court, proved seeing the accused stealing the cables.

Emmanuel Mzee has since been released and is a free man.