THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has sentenced a maid and her lover to five years imprisonment for abducting two children.

In this matter, Hellen Banda, 27 and Chilimuna Kambwili, 39, were charged with two counts of abduction of children and another count of theft of a motor vehicle.

Particulars of the offence were that Banda and Kambwili on September 13, 2021 in Lusaka, unlawfully took two children under the age of 16 out of the care and protection of their parent Kumar Patel, against her will.

The duo pleaded guilty to the said offences.

The matter came up yesterday for facts and sentencing before Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makaliche.

Facts in this matter are that on August 16, the children’s mother saw an advert on Facebook where a woman who knew how to speak the Indian language and also knew how to cook Indian food was looking for a job as a maid.

When she was later contacted through the mobile line that was provided, the lady identified herself as Christine.

However, it was later known that her name was Hellen Banda.

On September 13, the children’s father asked the driver to go and pick the children aged 10 and seven from home and drive them to school.

However, upon reaching home; the said driver found that the children and the maid were not in the house.

The driver then called the children’s father, who later called his wife.

The wife however discovered that the phones for her son and the maid were switched off, prompting them to later report the matter at Lusaka Central Police station.

“On the material day around 11:00 hours, Banda who was then known as Christine had introduced and told the children that Chilumina Kambwili was a new driver employed by their father and was going to take them to school. The boy got the keys from the house and gave them to Chilumina. On the way, Chilumina hit a pothole which resulted in the rear bumper of the Toyota Allion vehicle being damaged and removed from the body of the vehicle as he was driving fast and in the wrong direction from the school. He was advised on the direction by the victims but he instead warned them to shut up. He instead drove to Kabanana compound and locked the victims in a room,” read the facts.

“Later, at about 19:00 hours, Hellen came into the room and the victims begged her to take them back to their parents and give him (the boy) back his phone which Chilumina had grabbed. The victims were however told that they were only going to be released when their father paid them a ransom. Later, the victims slept in that room without eating.”

The following day on September 14, the victims were fed chips and orange juice and later Chilumina tied the boy’s hands and legs with a cable and warned him not to cry anymore as he had started crying, wanting to be taken home.

On the third day, the boy saw his phone on Banda’s bed and quickly got hold of it and called his father and mother telling them to send the ransom claimed by Banda which was at K2 million but was later reduced to K50,000. The money was to be paid by Patel in an account belonging to Majory Zulu but was not paid.

The police investigated the matter which led to the apprehension of the two accused persons and the recovery of the vehicle as well as the two victims.

When asked by the court whether the facts were correct, Banda agreed but stated that the children never slept hungry as they were given food on all the days they were held hostage.

Kambwili also said the facts were correct but clarified that when he collected the children, he used the right direction and promised to allow them to talk to their father when they got agitated.

In mitigation, Banda said she regretted her actions and would not have done it had she thought about it earlier.

She asked for forgiveness from the court as well as the victims’ parents, stating that she had felt what the victims’ mother had felt now that she was away from her own children.

Kambwili also apologized to the parents and the court.

He stated that he had allowed his emotions to get the better of him as Banda had worked for an Indian previously for 10 years but wasn’t given any separation package, a move which fuelled their action.

Kambwili said he had realized his mistake and further asked the court for leniency as there was no one to take care of their three children during their time in prison.

But passing the sentence, Magistrate Makaliche said the two deserved a stiff punishment as their action was grave and against the law.

He noted that the two needed to serve as an example to would-be offenders because there were many other ways in which one could make money as opposed to abducting people’s children.

Magistrate Makaliche therefore sentenced the two to five years imprisonment in the first count.

In the second count, he sentenced them to two years while in the third count, five years.

Magistrate Makaliche said as the two were first-time offenders, the sentences would run concurrently with effect from yesterday.