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Convicted kidnappers, Bwalya and Sikaonga appeal against life sentences


James Bwalya and Mathews Sikaonga, who abducted and mercilessly tortured 13 women for months have filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal saying they were unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court.

The have accused Judge Charles Kafunda of using his emotions in rendering the sentences which were not befitting because the appeallants had readily pleaded guilty to the 54 counts of rape, abduction, assault, occasioning actual bodily harm and aggravated assualt with intent to steal.

Read more: Notorious kidnappers, Bwalya and Sikaonga, to spend life in prison

This is according to a notice of intention to appeal filed on July 28, 2023 by Steven Osborne Ngoma advocates on behalf of the convicts.

Four grounds of appeal have been raised to oppose the sentences.

Bwalya and Sikaonga lured their victims who included former school classmates and held them in confinement at a house in Chalala, Lusaka, between March and October 2022.

In his delivered sentencing on June 29, Kafunda said the convicts were not deserving of lienency as the attacks inflicted on the 13 victims left undescribable physical and mental pain, such that one would question why a human being could inflict such brutal torture on another person.

Fifty years for each of the 11 counts of rape was pronounced, 15 years for each charge of aggravated assault, five years for each count of abduction and three years for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The said sentences would run concurrently.

Justice Kafunda pronounced life sentences with hard labour in the other rape charges committed against two other victims.

He said the victims referred to by initials FM who was pregnant and RMC were singled out from the group and suffered the worst brutal torture.

Justice Kafunda said FM was the first victim who was kidnapped together with her three year old daughter and was two months pregnant at the time.

“The convicts showed no empathy whatsoever for the suffering they inflicted on FM and RMC. That the convicts autrious attacks on FM and RMC exacerbated the seriousness and aggravating circumstances of the offences herein and hence justify the imposition of the maximum possible sentences in relation to the offences involving violent and sexual assault,” he said.

The convicts have, however, described the life sentences as injustice on them which ought to be received with a sense of shock by the Court of Appeal.

They contested the Judge used emotions and not the principles of law when imposing the sentences.

The appellants said that the trial court erred in both law and fact by becoming emotional when considering the sentence to be imposed on the appeallant by demeaning the plea by the second appeallant (Sikaonga) that he thought it was a game not serious offences.

The convict said the judge should have considered the fact that they were first time offenders who had readily pleaded guilty to the charges and were youthful in age and that the incidence of abduction was not prevelent in Zambia.

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