THE Lusaka Magistrate’s Court has slapped a five-year jail term on a 21-year-old maid who stole a Lusaka couple’s six-month-old child and fled with it.
Magistrate Faides Hamaundu imposed a custodial sentence on Raechel Banda of SOS area for putting the baby’s life at risk by taking it away from its mother for a number of days.
During plea, Banda told magistrate Hamaundu that she stole the baby and wanted to raise it because she did not have a child of her own.
Banda on December 14, 2019, with intent to deprive Brenda Hakanema, who had lawful care or charge of her baby, Luyando Mwanza, a child under the age of 16, fraudulently took possession of the child.
When asked about her intentions towards the child, the maid explained that she had no intentions of harming the baby.
Banda said that she intended to keep the baby and raise it like her own as she was longing for a child.
Asked if she had consent from the mother to take the child, the 22-year-old denied.
“I got the child because I do not have my own. I had no intentions of harming the child but I wanted to be staying with him because I don’t have a child of my own. I did not get consent from the parents to run away with the baby,” said Banda.
She disappeared with the baby that was left under her care, and went into hiding in Kitwe.
Banda was apprehended by alert traders at Kitwe’s Chisokone market whilst moving from one restaurant to another asking for food in order to feed herself and the baby.
Facts of the matter are that on December 14, last year Hakanema, left her house in New Kasama around 12:00 together with her husband, Teddy Mwanza, her sister and children and went to Woodlands for a luncheon as it was her birthday.
Later in the day around 16:00 hours, Hakanema asked her sister to take the children home as it was getting late.
Hakanema received a phone call around 21:00 hours from her father, Gideon Hakanema, who informed her that Banda had left home with the baby around 17:00 hours, and did not return home since then.
Hakanema decided to report her maid to Nyumba Yanga Police Post but she was referred to Woodlands Police Station where a complaint was formerly lodged.
The baby’s mother was asked to produce a birth certificate and Under Five Card as proof that she was the owner of the missing baby.
On December 15, Hakanema begun searching for her baby at the University Teaching Hospital pediatrics hospital but the search did not yield results and she proceeded to ZNBC, Muvi TV, Hot FM and Mwebentu social media and placed an advert indicating that her maid had fled with her six month old baby.
Around 13:00 hours, Hakanema received a phone call from a well-wisher, asking her to go to SOS so that she could be shown the residence of Banda’s parents and that she might find the convict there.
Hakanema informed the police about the phone call and upon receipt of the information, a woman inspector Phiri Misozi instituted investigations and proceeded to the said place with her.
When they reached SOS, the informer led Hakanema and the police officers to the residence of Banda’s mother, Vitarina Phiri.
The police asked the convict’s mother to accompany them in order to assist the police locate the accused person.
The police, together with Hakanema and the convict’s mother went to Ng’ombe compound to Banda’s elder sister but they did not find her.
Whilst investigations were still ongoing, the police learnt through the media, that Banda had been apprehended and was remanded at Kitwe Central Police and that the police had custody of the stolen baby.
The case was then transferred to Woodlands police where a complaint had been lodged and Banda was charged and arrested for the subject offence.
Under warn and caution statement in Nyanja, the Banda gave a free and voluntary reply admitting the charge.
During her mitigation, Banda begged the court for forgiveness vowing never to steal a baby.
Magistrate Hamaundu told Banda that the offence she committed was serious and attracts a sentence of 14 years but she would impose a custodial sentence on her so that she could transform into a better person and in order to deter would be offenders.
“You put the baby’s life at risk by taking it away from its mother for several days which resulted into the child being abused. To serve as a lesson to would be offenders, I therefore sentence the accused person to five years simple imprisonment,” said Magistrate Hamaundu.