Magistrate punishes 17-year old with two children for ‘denying’ baby

THE Livingstone Magistrate’s Court has sentenced a 17-year-old girl to 12 months’ probation for lying to police that her baby belonged to someone else with the aim of seeking refuge from a United Church of Zambia (UCZ) home.
This is in a case where the juvenile is facing one count of giving false information to public officers before magistrate Chinkashi Chilingala.
The offence is contrary to section 125 of the Penal Code, chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
Particulars of the offence are that the juvenile has two babies, the youngest being four months old.
On June 7, this year, the juvenile offender told her aunt that she wanted to go to Lusaka, where the relatives of her baby are.
The following day, the girl approached UCZ and requested them to keep her and the baby as she had no means to keep her. The church accepted to offer accommodation but had to inform the police for clarity.
The church was willing to take care of the juvenile and her child, but needed to seek permission from the authorities.
The matter was reported to Livingstone Central Police and the girl told the officers that the baby belonged to her elder sister’s late friend.
Acting on this information, police launched investigations which revealed that the juvenile was the real mother of the four-month-old baby.
The girl was charged and officially arrested for the subject offence and the child was handed over to the Department of Social Welfare.
In his judgment, magistrate Chilingala sentenced the juvenile to 12 months’ probation after recommendations from the Social Welfare.

ZWD COMMENT: This is stupidity of the highest order by the court and the police. This is just a matter the police or magistrate should just have reprimanded the girl and let her go. Already she is in social difficulties as she is unable to take care of her children and even herself. And what does our mighty police and fair judicial system do? Sentence a socially traumatised minor to 12 months just for saying that the baby was not hers? Did they consider the fact that she was merely afraid and embarrassed and therefore decided to tell this lie? Certainly punishing this girl is not in public interest. Where are the women movements? It is clear that this girl was taking care of the baby as her own and was looking for assistance. She never denied the baby until the police came in the picture. Imagine a 17 year old girl with two children facing the police? Can she be expected to act like a responsible adult telling the police all they want to hear?
At 17 with two children, shouldn’t the police have used their investigative powers to find out if the girl was defiled?
It does not really matter whether she does not go into physical jail. The fact that she has been given some form of punishment lasting 12 months is just sick. She needs help not punishment. That sentence must be quashed. Being on probation means that for 12 months she will be required to follow certain rules and, or perform community service just like other prisoners do. The only difference with other prisoners is that she is not locked up, but, she may not be allowed to leave or go to certain places. She is a mental prisoner. 

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