Mpika police arrest local businessman
By Staff Reporter
Police in Mpika District of Muchinga Province have arrested a local businessman Modecai Sichalwe following a warrant of arrest issued by the High Court during its last sitting in Kasama.
Zambia National Information Services reports that the High Court sitting in Kasama in Northern Province convicted Sichalwe in absentia on being in possession of arms charges following a successful appeal against the conviction and sentence by the State.
Without giving further details, Muchinga Province Police Commissioner Joel Njase who confirmed the arrest of Sichalwe in Mpika yesterday said necessary arrangements are being made to transfer Sichalwe to Kasama as per directive on the arrest bench warrant issued in Kasama High Court on January 25, 2019.
Heavily armed police officers picked Sichalwe from his house located in the Central Business District (CBD) in the morning yesterday and took him to Mpika police station.
On November 15 last year the magistrate’s court in Mpika district convicted and fined Sichalwe K5, 000 on 5 charges.
In his judgement, Magistrate Chinkashi Chilingala took into account the fact that the accused was a first offender and had pleaded guilty adding that he was entitled and deserves leniency.
Magistrate Chilingala also took into account the contribution of the accused to Mpika community and the number of people he had employed so far.
He further said that the crimes committed by the accused were one for which the legislature provides for a fine and convicted him accordingly.
Magistrate Chilingala said the court did not find cause why the accused should be given custodial sentence as he was a first offender.
He fined the accused K1, 000 for each of the 5 counts.
Magistrate Chilingala then ordered that the fine should be paid in total, that is K5, 000 and must be paid within 7 days from judgement day.
He added that in case of failure to pay, a warrant of distress was going to be issued and his property ceased
Sichalwe was found in possession of eight unlicensed guns and more than 200 rounds of ammunitions following a search at his house by the police.
Sichalwe was charged with 3 Counts of failing to renew a firearm licence contrary to Section 14(1), (6), (8) and 54 (1) of the Firearms Act Chapter 110 of the Laws of Zambia and 2 Counts of being in possession of ammunition in excess of authorized quantities contrary to Section 10(1) (2) (a) (b) as read with Section 58 regulation 25 of the Firearms Act Chapter 110 of the Laws of Zambia bringing the total to 5 counts.
Particulars of the offence were that Sichalwe on a date unknown but between 15th May 2018 and 2nd November 2018, at Mpika in Mpika District of Muchinga Province wilfully and unlawfully did fail to renew a firearm Licence No. 1204005, 9006184, and Licence No.608018 as required by law.
On 2nd November 2018 at Mpika in Mpika District, Sichalwe was found in possession of 302 excess ammunition of a 223 Rifle, contrary to authorized quantity of 100 ammunitions to be possessed at any one time.
The convict was also found in possession of 63 excess ammunitions of a pistol contrary to the authorized quantity of 50 ammunitions to be possessed at any one time.
Sichalwe pleaded guilty on all 5 charges when he appeared in court for plea.
In mitigation, Sichalwe’s lawyer Alex Chileshe of Mambwe Siwila and Chishimba Advocates, pleaded for lenience as he was a first offender adding that the client had pleaded guilty, therefore had not wasted the courts time.
Chileshe told the court that his client did not commit the offence intentionally and that he is remorseful for that.
He said the accused will do the right thing as required by the law as regards firearms.
Chileshe further said that the accused was a responsible member of the Mpika community and as a family man with so many dependents to look after, who is also a businessman who employes not less than 40 people in his various businesses, he required all the leniency he could get.
He added that the offence committed by the accused was a misdemeanor and the law states that where the legislature has prescribed a sentence of a fine or imprisonment, it is not customary in the case of a first offender to be given a custodial sentence without an option of a fine.