The First Grade Magistrate Court in Mzimba has handed group village headman Paul Chipokosa Chirwa, two village headmen and 12 subordinates a nine month suspended sentence for being present at a trial where they were accusing two people in their village of practicing witchcraft.
The court heard through the state prosecutor sergeant Reveland Gondwe that between the month of August and September this year, the group village headman together with his people employed a witch finder from Zambia after charging Jessi Chirwa and Bernard Chirwa with witchcraft.
The chief and his subordinates pleaded guilty to the offence of being present at trial by ordeal but asked the court for leniency saying all capable men from their village were arrested.
However, prosecutor Gondwe asked for stiff punishment stating that cases of such nature are common in Mzimba and this would deter would be offenders.
In passing the sentence, first grade magistrate Loness Gumbo concurred with the state and slapped the chief and his people with nine months’ imprisonment with hard labour. However, she also considered the chief’s request and suspended the sentence to 18 months.
The accused are still answering other charges like employing a witch-finder and charging a person with witchcraft which are ongoing in court.
Group village headman Paul Chipokosa Chirwa and his subjects come from Traditional Authority Mzikubola in Mzimba district.