By CHARLES MUSONDA
A MAID and her lover have been sentenced to 12 years simple imprisonment and hard labour, respectively, for abducting two children belonging to her employer and stealing a motor vehicle in a failed attempt to extort K2 million ransom from the victims’ parents.
Helen Banda and her on-and-off boyfriend Chilumina Kambwili were sent to jail yesterday by Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalichi after they pleaded guilty to two counts of abduction and one count of stealing a Toyota Allion belonging to the children’s parents Kumar Dahyabhai Patel and his wife Rajeshree Dharmesh Patel.
Mr. Makalichi told the two convicts that what they did was “very bad, punishable by the law and we need to respect what the law provides.
“You need to respect other people’s rights and there are better ways of making money other than what you did. Your action was unacceptable and you deserve severe punishment. The only punishment is to go to jail so that you are taught a lesson and deter other would-be offenders,” Mr. Makalichi said.
He therefore sentenced Banda and Kambwili to five years in the first count, two years in count two, and five years in the third count effective yesterday.
He said since the two are first offenders, the sentences will run concurrently, meaning that they will only serve five years.
According to facts presented to court by public prosecutor Abraham Ngozo, Banda was employed by Ms. Patel after she advertised herself on Facebook as someone, who knew how to speak the Indian language and cook Indian food, was looking for employment as a maid.
The Patel family had a routine of picking the two children Sundrshan Patel, a 10-year-old boy, and his sister Nilakshi Patel aged seven at 12:00 hours every school day from home on Freedom Way and drive them to Monix School.
The vehicle was always parked at home and the keys were kept on a convenient place to be given to the driver by either the maid or the children as Ms. Patel was out working as well.
On September 13, 2021 Mr. Patel instructed the driver Chama Mulenga to pick up the children and drive them to school but when Mr. Mulenga reached his boss’ home he realised that Banda and the minors were not there.
Later, Mr. Mulenga called Mr. Patel who in turn called his wife but when the latter phoned Banda and her son their phones were switched off.
On the same date, Banda had earlier introduced Kambwili to the children as the new driver employed by their father and she later left the home before her co-accused drove out with the victims.
Upon seeing that they were being driven in the wrong direction, the children advised Kambwili on the correct way but he instead warned them to shut up.
He then drove to Kabanana compound and locked the victims in a room and in another room there was Banda’s baby and a girl aged about 16.
Later aroun19:00 hours Banda came and the victims begged her to take them to their parents and give back Sundrshan his phone which Kambwili had grabbed from him but she instead told them that they were only going to be released when their father paid the K2 million ransom.
The victims slept in the said room without eating and the following day Kambwili tied the boy’s hands and legs with a cable and warned him not to cry anymore.
On the third day the boy saw his phone on Banda’s bed and quickly got it and phoned his father and mother, telling them to send the money to Banda and Kambwili so that they could be released.
Afterwards Banda and Kambwili reduced their demand from K2 million to K50, 000 to be paid into an account for one Majory Zulu but police investigations led to the apprehension of the two before the money could be paid.