IN THE HIGH COURT OF MALAWI
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO 19 OF 1996
: HON. JUSTUCE A.K.C. NYIRENDA
Counsel for the State
Appellant; Present, Unrepresented
J U D G M E N T
HONOURABLE JUSTICE A.K.C. NYIRENDA
The appellant was charged with the
offence of receiving stolen property contrary to section 328 of the
Penal Code. He was convicted
on his own plea of guilty and
sentenced to 6 years imprisonment with hard labour by the First Grade
Magistrate Court at Dowa in
what was Criminal Case Number 89 of 1996.
I set the matter down to revisit the plea of guilty which to me
seems to have retractions.
As it turned out, at the hearing of the
case the appellant had filed his own appeal challenging, in context,
the propriety of
In order for a plea of guilty to be
unequivocal the trial court should not only concentrate on the
accuseds answer to the charge
but more importantly are the facts
in support of the charge.
The facts stated by the prosecutor
in court in the instant case are brief and bare. All the record
says is that the appellant
bought a bull from Mr Fanuel Kalitela.
Fanuel Kalitela happened to have stolen the bull from another person.
Kalitcha was arrested
and he revealed that he sold the bull to the
appellant. There is nothing also on the facts to suggest that the
have known or had reason to suspect that Kalitcha must
have stolen or unlawfully acquired the bull. The circumstances in
Kalitcha sold the bull to the appellant are not disclosed in
The appellant now tells the court
that Kalitcha actually produced to him papers which suggested that he
had lawfully bought the
bull and had authority to sell the bull.
As an illiterate person the appellant says he had no reason to doubt
was saying to him because, after all, the transaction
was at an open market. The impression I have is that the appellant
not fully appreciate the nature of the offence he was pleading
to. A conviction in such circumstances is unsafe. Counsel for
State agreed with my views. In Open Court at the hearing of the
appeal, I quashed the conviction and set aside the sentence.
reserved my formal judgment which I now deliver.
in Open Court this 31st
day of December, 1996.
J U D G E