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Judicial CP - April 1998

Corpun file 4060

The Times of Zambia, Ndola, 10 April 1998

Courts round-up

Amend trespass law, parley told

By Charles Chisala, Margaret Mangani and Mina Gama

A NDOLA magistrate has asked Parliament to amend the law of trespass on burial grounds to prescribe stiffer penalties for offenders.

People are taking advantage of the light two-year maximum prison term for the offence to violate graves and exhume corpses without remorse.

Magistrate Edson Tembo made the appeal yesterday when he ordered Pascal Chisenga, 34, and Webster Chupa, 31, both unemployed and of no fixed abode, to receive 10 strokes of the cane each for exhuming and stripping a corpse.

He ordered that all the strokes be meted out the same day so that the two could know how society felt about their behaviour.

Chisenga and Chupa were also sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour after admitting wounding the feelings of the public on January 29 by trespassing on Kantolomba cemetery.

Chisenga had been convicted and jailed by the same term in 1996 for a similar offence while Chupa was a first offender.

Mr Tembo said he had been forced to order that the two receive the strokes of the cane because the two-year maximum term was ineffective as proved by Chisenga's repeat of the same offence in a short time.

"Parliament should seriously look at this issue and enact tough laws that would deter trespassers of burial grounds. The current law is too light as shown by Chisenga," Mr Tembo said.

"I sentence you to 24 months with hard labour, but because the term is too light, you will receive 10 strokes of the cane and I want that to be carried out today," he said.

The court had earlier heard that on January 29 this year Chisenga and Chupa were apprehended with a plastic bag by detective constable Chisompola of Kansenshi police station around 03.00 hours at the cemetery.

When Chisompola searched the bag he discovered that it contained one navy-blue jersey and a shirt, one blanket, a pair of socks and one neck-tie.

When he questioned them where they had got the items from at that awkward hour the two confessed that they had exhumed a body from which they got the items.

They led Chisompola to the grave of the late Ndola City Council senior public relations officer Roy Mwema who had been buried earlier in the day. They told the officer it was from his body they had got the clothes.

Chisompola took the two to Kansenshi police station. The next morning they led him to 28 Mushili Bonano where the late Mwema's relatives identified the clothes as those they had buried him with.

They were later taken to court where they pleaded guilty to trespassing on a burial ground.

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