Dec 13, 2017 Last Updated 12:40 PM, Dec 13, 2017
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Five children are missing in Mchinji, after they allegedly ran away from a Salvation Army transit centre in the district.

A senior officer at the transit centre, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the development to the Malawi News Agency on Wednesday.

“We just noticed this yesterday (Tuesday) morning that some of the children we are keeping here are missing and we believe they have escaped.

“With little information we have now, we cannot rule out a case of child trafficking. It is believed that someone has influenced these children to escape,” the source said adding that the centre together with the police have launched a search and an investigation on the matter.

It is believed that the five, all under the age of 15, went over the centre’s brick fence to make their getaway.

Records show that the children have been living at the transit centre for 2 to 3 months after they were rescued from traffickers.

Their escape has heightened fears that they could fall back into the hands of child traffickers.

Among the escapees are two girls, one from Mzimba district and the other one from Dowa.

The other three are boys, one from Lilongwe and two from Kasungu.

53 year Anthony Mkwanda from Mchinji district will spend 30 years of his life.

Mkanda was found guilty of defiling three underage girls.

The Mchinji First Grade Magistrate court heard through Police Prosecutor Humphreys Makhaliha revealed that the convict defiled the three aged between six and eight.

The incident happened at Kazyozyo village in the area of Traditional Authority Kazyozyo in the district.

The girls were playing outside their house which is close to the house of the convict when this happened.

He called them to his house where he defiled them all and gave them MK50 each threatening them not to report the matter to anyone.

Makhaliha further told the court that the girls didn't do otherwise but thought it imperative to explain the ordeal to their parents.

The parents reported the matter to Kazyozyo Police Unit where the convict was arrested and formerly charged.

In court, the convict denied the charge but the state proved it beyond reasonable doubt.

The state and the court agreed that the case was very serious and the accused deserved a stiffer punishment.

It was narrated that the man was a neighbour to the victims and was supposed to be a guardian, but did the contrary and therefore deserves a stiffer punishment that would deter him and would be offenders as well as give assurance and confidence to the girls that they are well protected by the law.

In his judgment, First Grade Magistrate Rodwell Phiri stated that the evidence presented by the state was overwhelming, hence finding him guilty of defilement of the three girls.

While pointing out that cases of defilement in the country are becoming more rampant, he quashed the mitigating factors presented by the convict who pleaded for leniency as he is an orphan and has nine children.

The court therefore sentenced Anthony Mkwanda to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor for each count and sentences to run consecutively.

Representatives of Mchinji District Council have issued a ban on vendors buying maize in the district until May 31, 2017.

American pop star, Madonna, is on 2 December expected to host a charity event to raise funds towards the singer’s charity in Malawi.

There is an whelming response on the number of pregnant women who are said to be delivering in certified health facilities in Malawi's central region district of Ntcheu.

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