Petty offences are minor offences for which the punishment is prescribed by law to carry a warning, community service, a low-value fine or short term of imprisonment, often for failure to pay the fine. Examples include, but are not limited to, offences such as being a rogue and vagabond, being an idle or disorderly person, loitering, begging, being a vagrant, failure to pay debts, being a common nuisance and disobedience to parents; offences created through by-laws aimed at controlling public nuisances on public roads and in public places such as urinating in public and washing clothes in public; and laws criminalising informal commercial activities, such as hawking and vending. Petty offences are entrenched in national legislation and, in most countries, fall within the broader category of minor offences, misdemeanours, summary offences or regulatory offences. These offences target those that are economically or socially marginalised, including persons living in poverty, homeless persons, street children, beggars, older persons, persons marginalised on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, key populations, persons with disabilities, street traders and vendors. Often people are arrested in circumstances which do not constitute any offence.
In the Magistrate Court
On 12 December 2020, child X was arrested for idle and disorderly offence under section 180(d) of the Penal Code when she was on her way to a night of praise. She alleges that she was in a company of two friends, a boy and a girl when they were arrested. It is alleged that the police officers asked for money from the three and only one girl was able to give the police the money and was immediately released. Child X was taken into police custody with the boy. Whilst in police custody, she alleges that Officer Andrew Chagaga, took her away from everyone else right in the police building and raped her twice. Officer Chagaga later released her and her friend in the night. She reported the incident the following day and Chagaga was subsequently arrested for rape.
The trial against Officer Andrew Chagaga, commenced on 17th February 2021 and the State paraded seven witnesses to prove the case of rape. Andrew Chagaga was subsequently found with a case to answer and he was called upon to enter his defence. He exercised his right to remain silent but brought one witness in his defence. On 15 July 2021 the Court delivered its judgment convicting Officer Chagaga of raping the child twice in police custody.
On 31 August 2021, the Magistrate’s Court committed to the High Court for sentencing.
The case is being prosecuted by Eunice Ndingo from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Chikondi Chijozi of SALC and Ruth Kaima of CHREAA.
Case in the News
4 August 2021 The Nation, Malawi Rapist in police uniform.