Social media has been flooded by “free Mussa” posts as Malawians are demanding the court free an 18-year-old boy identified as Mussa John, from Mtandiro village, Traditional Authority Mkagulo in Zomba
who was convicted to 8 years in prison in Blantyre over illegal possession of Chamba weighing 134 kilograms.
Inspector Ian Ntaba, a prosecutor at Limbe Police Station, on June 24 said the culprit was on June 15, 2022, found with 78 plastic bags full of the illicit drug, weighing 134 kilograms.
Inspector Ntaba told the Limbe Senior Magistrate’s Court that on the material date, Limbe Police detectives working on a tip, invaded John’s house and found him with the drug.
He was later arrested and charged with being found in possession of Indian hemp without license, an offence that contravenes Regulation 4(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Regulations, as read with Section 19(1) of Dangerous Drugs Act.
During court session, John pleaded guilty to the charge levelled against him.
The state prosecutor, asked the court to grant John a custodial sentence, saying despite tha he is a first offender, the quantity of the hemp was huge.
Ntaba further said the Indian hemp could have contributed to moral decay and criminal activities among youths and adults who could have accessed the hemp.
The state prosecutor therefore prayed for a reformatory sentence in accordance with the sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of possessing Indian hemp without licence.
In mitigation, the convict pleaded for leniency on the ground that he is a young man aged 19, with parents and siblings to take care of.
Ratifying his judgement, Senior Resident Magistrate Byson Masonga concurred with the state prosecutor and quashed John’s mitigation factors.
Masonga then sentenced John to 8 years imprisonment with hard labour.
Malawians are demanding a fine for him rather than a jail term.
One of the political commentators said in Malawi justice is not being taken as one of our pillars.
He added that people in government steal millions yet a poor citizen who is trying to source money for his living is being given brutal punishment.
Ironically, on the same prosecution, Blantyre magistrate courts on June 2 fined the Managing Director of the Castel Malawi limited Herve Milhade K1 million for cultivating Indian hemp.
A total of 59 plants of the hemp were estimated to 45kilograms were found at the culprit’s home and the plants were forfeited by the police under section 17(6) of the Dangerous Drug Act.
To the rescue of the poor boy, there are calls for a lawyer to do a pro-bono for him.