THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has sentenced a 45-year-old woman of Lusaka’s Garden Compound to five years imprisonment for assaulting her six-year-old nephew.
In this matter, Thandi Ufwenuka and her husband, Mulonda Khumalo, 35, were charged with assault on a child.
It was alleged that Ufwenuka and Khumalo between March 1, and May 31, 2020, in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together assaulted a child.
The matter came up for judgement before Magistrate Alice Walusiku, Wednesday.
During trial, the victim testified that the duo used to beat him, mostly on his back, using an electric cable.
The boy testified that he was also pinched on his ears and hit on the head.
He told the court that he used to be beaten for nothing and when asked whether he reported to anyone, he responded in the affirmative.
The second witness, a neighbour, told the court that she would usually find the boy crying after being beaten by Ufwenuka.
She recalled an incident where the boy asked for toilet keys but was denied and later defecated in his clothes.
When she asked him to go home and change, he refused saying he was told to go and wait at the garbage dump where he was until 22:00 hours when the aunt came to bath him.
She also told the court that anyone who would confront Ufwenuka about the boy would be insulted, which prompted her to report the abuse to the police.
The witness had tried to report the abuse to Khumalo but no change was seen.
The father to the boy also testified that the couple requested that the boy come to Lusaka so that they could take care of him.
He explained that in March 2020, the couple even sent transport money which he used to bring the boy from Mansa where he resides with his wife and other children.
He said when he brought the boy, he didn’t have bruises on his ears and back or sores on his head but he found them when he was called to report to the police after the matter was reported.
He said he found that his child was being beaten by his brother and the wife.
Another neighbour testified that Ufwenuka would beat the boy all over his body and would make him wash his feaces whenever he defecated in his clothes.
The witness testified that the accused would later use a red electric cable to whip him on his back which left him with bruises.
She narrated that when Khumalo would be leaving for work around 06:00 hours, the victim would be outside in the cold until she would intervene, but was later insulted and told to stay away from the boy.
She also testified that the child tried to run away from home on three occasions.
But in their defence, Ufwenuka said the child was sick as he had ringworms on his head and back and a swollen stomach when he was brought under her care.
She said she was taking good care of him until he got healed.
But in her findings of fact, Magistrate Walusiku said it was a fact that the child was assaulted and it was proven that he was indeed under the age of 16.
She also found as a matter of fact that Ufwenuka beat up the child for no apparent reason with the intention to assault him.
Magistrate Walusiku found Ufwenuka guilty and convicted her accordingly.
On Khumalo, Magistrate Walusiku said the evidence of his involvement only came from the child but it was not corroborated by any other evidence as required by law.
She said the witnesses who testified only saw Ufwenuka beating the child and not Khumalo as he was mostly at work.
Magistrate Walusiku, therefore, found him not guilty and acquitted him accordingly.
And in mitigation through her lawyers from legal aid board, Ufwenuka said she was a family woman and breadwinner.
She said being a first offender, she was remorseful for her actions and asked for the court’s leniency.
But passing sentence, Magistrate Walusiku noted that by virtue of asking for the child, it meant that Ufwenuka was ready to take care of him, but the opposite was the case.
“Looking at what you do, it was wrong. Imagine calling for a child to stay with, this meant that you were ready to take care of him in all circumstances including when he defecated in his clothes but the opposite was done. He was being whipped on a daily basis,” she said.
Magistrate Walusiku said she personally saw the scars on the boy and could not imagine what was happening for a child to have such scars.
She noted that she would be at fault if she failed to give adequate punishment.
Magistrate Walusiku therefore sentenced Ufwenuka to 60 months, translating to five years, simple imprisonment and granted her leave to appeal within 14 days.