Zomba Principal Resident Magistrate Court convicted and sentenced three men to eight years imprisonment after the court found them guilty of breaking and stealing from a warehouse at Jali Trading Center in Zomba where they assaulted a guard before stealing items worth K46 million.
Neverson Kalipalire, 34, James Kaike, 24 and Frank Phiri, 34 broke into Jali businessman’s warehouse, Joseph Mankhokwe, and stole bales of motorcycle tubes, bicycle tubes, motorcycle tyres and two water pumps, according to Prosecutor, Sergeant Yohane Chaomba.
He said the three broke into the ware house on the night of 11 to 12 February this year, 2018 and later went to different directions to sell the stolen items.
A day before the crime, the three met at a certain rest house at Namwera Turn-off in Zomba where they planned the burglary and theft according to Prosecutor Sergeant Chaomba who told the court.
He added that the accused hired a three-tonner motor vehicle that was meant to transport stolen items.
Kalipalire was arrested at Machinga Road Block as he was travelling to Liwonde with the stolen items when he failed to convince the police where he got the items as he had no supporting documents.
His arrest led to the arrest of Kaile who stays in Lilongwe but was arrested in Liwonde Township.
Sergeant Chaomba added that police also arrested Phiri and John Chombo in Zomba.
Kalipalire, Kaile, and Phiri led the police to Liwonde and Nselema in Machinga and Mangochi where they had sold and kept the stolen goods.
Despite taking the police to the three places, only a quarter of the stolen items were recovered, according to Eastern Region Police.
Kalipalire and Kaike pleaded guilty to burglary and theft charges while Phiri and Chombo pleaded not guilty to the charges which were responding to section 311 of the Penal Code.
Phiri and Chombo’s pleas prompted the state to parade five witnesses that testified against them. Phiri, however, failed to prove his innocence before the court while Chombo was acquitted after witnesses failed to present sufficient evidence against him.
Following submission of facts and evidence, the court found Kalipalire, Kaile and Phiri guilty and therefore convicted them.
Chaomba asked the court to give the three stiffer penalties for wounding a guard and breaking into the warehouse, saying this was a serious crime considering that most of the stolen items were not recovered.
In mitigation, the three asked the court to forgive them, saying this was their first time to commit an offence and that they were responsible men with families to look after.
However, Principal Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha observed that the three committed a serious crime that deserved stiffer and custodial sentence, saying eight years imprisonment with hard labour was ideal for Kalipalire, Kaike and Phiri.
Kalipalire and Kaike come from Jali Village, Traditional Authority Mwambo in Zomba while Phiri comes from Chikapa Village, Traditional Authority Symon in Mwanza.