The Nkhata-Bay First Grade Magistrate Court has on Friday, January 27, 2023 convicted and sentenced a 52-year-old village headman Chiwombe, whose real name is Patrick Phiri, to 3 years imprisonment with hard labour for tampering with national identity cards for ten people in his village by tricking them.
State prosecutor Sub Inspector Imedi Isaac told the court that Patrick Phiri on January 8, 2023 tricked ten villagers and collected their national identity cards, promising to help them to easily access government loan through a local bank.
Phiri, instead of using the IDs as he promised the people, he used them to purchase his fertilizer under AIP at Mkumbira Resource Centre without the owners’ knowledge.
This came to light on January 22, 2023 when the villagers wanted to access fertilizer at one of the AIP selling points.
They noticed that five IDs were already scanned and used to purchase the commodity.
It was also heard that Phiri used some boys who were offloading the fertilizer to pose as people from the village sent by their aged relatives to buy the fertilizer on their behalf.
Appearing in court on January 24, 2023 Phiri pleaded guilty to the charge.
In submission during subsequent proceedings on January 27, 2023 the state asked for deterrent sentence, basing on the fact that the convict planned to commit the offence.
The state further said that the convict, as a village headman, would have taken a leading role in safeguarding his people to smoothly access the affordable inputs (AIP).
In mitigation, Phiri prayed for leniency to the court when passing its sentence citing he has children who depend on him, and that he has health problems.
When passing sentence, First Grade Magistrate Ezekiel Kamtikana, quashed the mitigating factors and concurred with the state saying that chiefs must always be responsible and set good examples in the society. He then went on to sentence Phiri to 3 years imprisonment with hard labour effective from the date of his arrest.
Patrick Phiri, hails from Sub Traditional Authority Mndola in Nkhata Bay District.