WORLEC takes courts closer to communities

Nsanje: Nsanje Magistrate’s Court has been hearing defilement cases right in the areas where such offences were committed courtesy of Women’s Legal Resource Centre (WORLEC) as one way of dispensing justice to perpetrators of defilement.

The initiative is an attempt to ensure that witnesses who fail to testify in the court due to long distances to the court should not be bothered and in the process delaying court proceedings.

WORLEC Project Officer, Gift Mauluka told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview on the side lines of a court hearing on Wednesday that the organisation is committed to promote access to justice by women and girls.

He said WORLEC would endeavour to promote access to justice by bringing the court closer to communities and speed up the trial processes for defilement cases which appear to be on the rise in the district.

Mauluka observed that that the initiative would ease the burden the district has had by failing to fully prosecute and complete such cases due to unavailability of the witnesses.

Nsanje district has seen a rise in numbers of defilement cases in the recent times but prosecuting them has been an issue. You may be aware that such cases are supposed to be heard by first grade magistrates of which one has just been posted to Nsanje, implying that more defilement cases are yet to be disposed of.

The coming in of the first grade magistrate is a blessing in disguise to the district. We would like to use her availability in this exercise so that women and girls have access to justice, he said.

The Project Officer said completion of defilement cases sometimes delay or withdrawn because of failure by witnesses to testify in the court due to distances or mere unwillingness, adding that the intervention was expected send a warning signal to would-be offenders right in their respective communities.

Meanwhile, the exercise has managed to convict and sentenced two people to serve jail sentences and started hearing of eight other defilement cases.

The court sitting at Fatima Police Unit convicted and sentenced Batumeo Joseph, 45 who hails from Jambo Village in Chief Mbenje’s area in the district to 72 months imprisonment with hard labour upon being found guilty of indecent assault.

While Mikeyasi Namadombe, 55, from Chipolopolo Village in Traditional Authority Mlolo’s area has been convicted and sentenced to 84 months for defiling a 10-year-old girl.

Nsanje First Grade Magistrate, Esther Phiri observed that the courts have a role to play in protecting girls from all forms of abuse.

The future of girls is important and needs to be protected. We want to bring or win back public confidence hence giving offenders stiff sentences, she pronounced.

Comic Relief through Concern Worldwide and Danish Church Aid are supporting WOLREC in the initiative.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA