Helen  Makukula

Helen Makukula

Date: June 9, 2015
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One afternoon, as I was travelling from Lilongwe to Mchinji where I live, at around 3pm, I got a phone call from a reporter of Mudzi Wathu Community Radio operating in Mchinji, informing me that the court had just passed a sentence of 12 months imprisonment with hard labour to a 26 years old man for defiling a 10 year old girl, whom he also infected with HIV. The 12 months sentence surprised and shocked the community of Mchinji as it was totally not in line the Penal Code provisions. I felt very disturbed that in my district, at this time of the 21st century, we still have Courts that do not have regard of criminal matters of this nature The Journalist indicated that he specifically called to interview me as a women ’s rights activist in Mchinji and Executive Director for women hope for change ”. First and foremost, I felt very honoured to be recognised as a human rights activist in Mchinji. While I was able to grant an interview to the journalist but when I got back to my office, I consulted the first Grade Magistrate who happened to be the most senior magistrate at this court in order to address the issue with speed before the Judiciary gets embarrassed with such kinds of judgements. Thereafter I mobilised others to petition the District Commissioner for Mchinji District to summon the Magistrate to her office that happened as requested. I personally presented my concerns to the Magistrate who assured us to give feedback regarding our concerns within 7 days. As indicated, during the discussion, The Magistrate later came back with feedback informing us that judgement had been reversed and the accused had been taken back for remand awaiting the another court appearance.

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