Women for Change (WfC) says the Legal Aid Board should appeal the court ruling where a 21-year old woman of Lusaka’s SoS area was sentenced to five years simple imprisonment for stealing a six-month-old baby.
In an interview, WfC executive director Lumba Siyanga argued that the convict should be examined for possible psychiatric problems and be put in the right mental institution rather than being thrown in jail.
She argued that no normal person would steal a child from its mother, especially one who was not married.
“It’s unfair! That is why we have the Legal Aid Board to provide legal services to those that cannot afford it. She was entitled to a lawyer. We know that what she did was bad, but that [could be] a pure psychiatric case. So, the Legal Aid Board should come in and appeal her case so that she is put in the right institution instead of throwing her in prison,” Siyanga said.
She insisted that Banda’s behaviour pointed to a psychiatric problem.
“She [may not] deserve the five years [in prison]; she [may have] to be put in a mental institution… She needs to be examined because I don’t think any normal person would do that…She [could have] a psychiatric thing and needs to be taken for further examination instead of throwing her in prison for five years, otherwise, she will come out [and do] the same thing because the problem is not being addressed in terms of her well-being. She [could be] a mental patient,” said Siyanga.
“Yes, stealing a child is bad, but no normal person would do that. How can you want to have a child when you are not even married? Where is the pressure coming from? Unless she was married and couldn’t have children. How can you want to have a child when you are not married and you end up stealing? Her story just doesn’t add up. It shows she is just thick in her head and needs to be helped instead of throwing her in jail.”
Last week, Lusaka Magistrate Faides Hamaundu sentenced Banda to five years simple imprisonment for stealing a baby that she took to Kitwe where she was apprehended.