The Magistrate Court in Lilongwe on Wednesday convicted four people in connection with the cutting of private parts from a dead body in Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) mortuary last month.
The matter came to light when two of the four suspects were caught trying to sell the parts at K8 million in Lilongwe.
Senior Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa said the police are justified to employ undercover investigations to prove whether someone has committed a crime.
He said this when he accepted evidence tendered in court by a police officer who went undercover as someone who wanted to buy the private parts
He observed that the technique, referred to as entrapment, would entail some form of cheating on the part of the investigating officer but may not have to go beyond a certain point.
“In the present case, the third and fourth accused had already taken steps to sell the tissues. They had already been supplied by the first and second accused and had already offered it to a buyer at K8million.
“Entrapment only came as an intervention. I don’t think that what PW4 (prosecution witness number 4) did was unlawful,” he said.
Chirwa convicted two KCH mortuary attendants Lufeyo Phimbi and Samalani Jabu of the offences of removing body tissue from the body of a deceased person and supplying human body tissue for financial gain against the Anatomy Act.
Two other people, Eric Mwandira and Sabita Mwale, were also convicted for selling human body tissue.
The four accused persons denied the charges against them and chose to exercise their right to remain silent throughout trial of their case, which magistrate Chirwa accepted.
He, however, found all the four guilty of the four offences and convicted them. In her submissions, Police prosecutor Cecilia Zangazanga pleaded with the court to impose a deterrent custodial sentence.
She argued that although they were first offenders, they had breached the trust of people of Malawi and also demonstrated no remorse in the matter.
She said in the case of the mortuary attendants, “They have let down the government. The government will find it tough to regain trust from the people as their action has left a scar in the society that will stay for a very long time. These factors warrant custodial sentencing”.
Defence lawyer Alemekezeke Mando countered this, arguing that the law dictates that maximum sentences should sparingly be imposed on first offenders.
He said the matter in question was not as serious evidenced by the fact that it does not appear in the Penal Code but only in the Anatomy Act.
He said some of his clients are also around the age of 55 at which courts are allowed to consider age as a mitigating factor and that the four have all been citizens of good conduct until this case arose. Chirwa reserved sentencing for Friday. – By Gabriel Kamlomo