The Chief Resident Magistrate Court in Lilongwe has on Tuesday, 28 February 2023, found not guilty Dickson Chikuma and three others as they were suspected of intentionally endangering the safety of persons traveling by road.
Chikuma and the three were arrested on 15 July 2022 at Mpaweni, Chilinde 2 township in Lilongwe. It was alleged that they blocked a road with stones in such a manner as to endanger the free use of the road while demanding money from motorists.
What led to their arrest was that Dickson Chikuma together with his co-accused while coming from a funeral on the July 15th night, went to a bar to buy beer after midnight. While there, police officers raided the place and were shooting in the air to round up people believed to have blocked the said road with stones.
In the process, Chikuma and the rest of the imbibers started fleeing the bar, but he was shot in the leg.
Chikuma managed to go back to the funeral, informed his friends about the raid, and his wife followed him to Kamuzu Central Hospital. From there, he went to the police to collect a statement but was arrested on suspicion that he committed the offense of intentionally endangering the safety of persons traveling by road, contrary to section 237(b) of the Penal Code.
Dickson Chikuma was granted bail and upon request, he was represented by Senior Legal Aid Advocate Chikondi Kambuwa from Legal Aid Bureau.
In court, the state paraded four witnesses to prove the case. Chikuma and the three others were found with a case to answer and they too entered their defense.
Passing judgment on Tuesday, the court indicated that it was verified the rocks were indeed placed on the road. It was further indicated that people were demanding money from motorists. The court observed that some people were seen where the stones were placed, but they fled and hid in a nearby bar where police rounded up suspects.
In the judgment, the court viewed that all accused were arrested at the bar but it was unclear if those arrested were the actual people who placed stones on the road. The importance of deciding the fate of the accused according to the court was the connection; the police had a job of identifying and separating individuals who were at the scene as they mixed up with those at the bar.
As the state failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the arrested were the actual culprits, the court saw it unsafe to enter a conviction. Legally aided Dickson Chikuma and the three have since been set free.