The appellant was charged with defilement contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia (unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 16 years) and was sentenced to the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. On behalf of the appellant, the appeal was filed on two grounds. On ground one, it was contended that the Court had erred in law by deciding not to conduct a voir dire and proceeding to receive the sworn evidence of a child. On ground two, it was contended the court below erred by finding corroboration and concluding the appellant was guiltywwww. Relative to the first grounds, the Court held that, while there had been no voir dire and while the Magistrate had failed to inquire as to whether the child understood the nature of the oath, this did not necessitate a re-trial, given that such orders are typically discretionary and this was not the only evidence tendered at trial. Relative to the second grounds, the Court observed that the question of identity was not in dispute and that there was substantial corroborative evidence that the crime had been committed. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the grounds lacked merit, as the Court was competent to convict the appellant even without the victim’s evidence. The Court further noted that the crime was compounded by the breach of trust that the appellant (who was the prosecutrix’s step-grandfather and exercising parental responsibility over her at the time) had committed against the victim and, therefore, set aside the 15-year minimum sentence in favor of a 20-year hard labour sentence.
Mwape v. The People