The Lusaka Magistrates Court has slapped a five year jail sentence on a 21-year-old Lusaka maid who stole her employer’s six-month-old baby.
Rachael Banda pleaded guilty in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court when she appeared yesterday.
She was arrested in Kitwe and charged with child stealing after disappearing with the baby on December 14, 2019.
Banda pleaded guilty to stealing the baby with intent to deprive Brenda Hakanema, who had lawful care or charge of her baby Luyando Mwanza, a child under the age of 16.
Lusaka magistrate Faides Hamaundu convicted Banda upon her own admission of guilt and agreeing that the facts of the matter were true and correct.
Passing sentence, magistrate Hamaundu said the offence Banda committed of stealing a child was a serious one and she was sending her to prison to teach her a lesson and deter other would-be offenders.
The magistrate said child stealing attracted a maximum sentence of 14 years but since she was a first offender who readily admitted the charge, she sentenced her to five years with leave to appeal to the High Court if she is not happy with the sentence.
Records in court show that on December 14, 2019, the baby’s mother, together with her husband Teddy Mwanza, her children, her sister and Banda, left for a birthday party in Woodlands residential area.
However, around 17:00 hours, Hakanema asked her sister Esther to take the children home as it was getting cold but around 21:00 hours, she received a call from her father, Gideon Hakanema, informing her that Banda had not returned since she left home with baby Luyando.
Hakanema reported the matter to Woodlands Police Station where she was asked to produce a birth certificate and under five card. On December 15, 2019 after being tired of searching, she went to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) Pediatric Hospital but drew a blank.
She then went to ZNBC, Muvi, Hot FM and also posted on Mwebantu News on social media about the missing baby.
On the same day around 15:00 hours, a good Samaritan called her telling her to go to SOS so that she could show her where Banda’s mother stayed.
During the course of the search, the officers discovered that police in Kitwe Copperbelt were in custody of the accused, Banda.
The investigations officer and Hakanema travelled to Kitwe Central police where they found Banda and the baby.
Banda was transferred to Woodlands Police Station where the matter was initially reported and was arrested and charged for the offence of child stealing and she voluntarily admitted the charge.
The prosecutor produced the under five card as part of her evidence to the court.
When asked whether the facts were correct, Banda responded in the affirmative and said she had nothing else to add or subtract.