Not everyone in jail is a criminal
Published On February 19, 2016 » 1363 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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IT is true that not all people who are in jail  are criminals or have committed serious offences.
In many courts of law magistrates have tried and sentenced people even when they entirely deny that they were criminals or had not committed the offences they were being charged for.
This being the case, some magistrates have sentenced people on circumstantial evidence, some which could have been true while some could have been false.
There have been many fiction stories and films you may have read and watched where some stars have been framed of having committed some crimes and have been jailed for the offences they did not commit, and when they came out of jail, they ensured they found the people who really committed the crime and made the law take its course against them.
But this is fiction. What would one do in real life?
I guess nothing much. Many relatives of some people who have been jailed have lamented that their relatives had been jailed for having done nothing wrong, but that there was nothing they could do to reverse the verdicts once passed by judges or magistrates.
Recently, I was on a mini bus from Chifubu Township to town in Ndola.
In front of me was seated an elderly woman I thought was in her late sixties or early seventies.
When the mini bus conductor was collecting bus fares, the woman produced a K20  note and insisted that the conductor gives her change immediately.
The conductor told the woman that he had no loose money at the time and he would give her the change after collecting fares from other passengers.
The woman then asked the conductor to give her back the K20 and she would pay him when he had loose money and many passengers in the mini bus laughed.
The conductor looked at the woman and said:” Nalamipela chenji yenu mbuya nshalabeko,” (I will give you your change grand mother, I will not forget).
“Awe we mwana tekweba ati walalaba. Kuti wampela ulupiya lwafeki. Umwana wandi balimukaka pamulandu wakuti namupele  ulupiya lwafeki ulo kondakita munobe ampele nga chenji,” (No son, it is not that you will forget to give me the change, you may give me fake money. My son was jailed because I gave him fake money which your fellow conductor gave me as change) explained the woman.
As an eavesdropper, I was excited. The old woman’s son was jailed after she gave him fake money which the conductor gave her as change! How did this happen? I wanted to know.
In fact, it was not only me who was excited. Many other passengers turned their attention to the woman after she said this.
“Tekanyeni mbuya, nalamipela chenji yenu,” (Be patient grand mother, I will give you your change), the conductor said.
The old woman shook her head and stretched her arm and said:” Awe mpelafye ililine,”(No, give me just now) insisted the woman.
The man who was sitting next to me was apparently annoyed with the conductor’s seemingly deliberate intention not to give the old woman the change.
“You give the old lady the change, don’t you understand?” the man fumed. It was at this time when the conductor counted the money and gave the woman the change.
After she got the change, she turned to the woman she was sitting next to and started explaining what happened for her son to be jailed
According to the woman, she was on a bus coming from Kitwe to Ndola. When the time came for the conductor to collect the bus fares, the old woman produced a K100 note and gave the conductor.
The bus fare was K 18 and she was to get K 82 as change. The conductor did not give the woman the change immediately.
After some time, the woman asked for her change, but the conductor told her he would give her later. He did not give her the change until the bus reached Ndola Central Hospital where she was to disembark.
“I don’t know how many times I asked him to give the change until we reached Ndola Central Hospital when I reminded him. He gave me the correct change, but I didn’t notice that the K50 note was fake.” explained the woman.
She said it was the following day around 09.00 hours when she got the K50 and gave one of her sons to go and buy bread when it was discovered that the money was a counterfeit.
The woman narrated that when the shopkeeper got the money, he saw that the money was fake and apprehended her son accusing him of being a thief.
“My son pleaded with the shopkeeper that he was not a thief and that the money was given to him by me to buy bread, but the shopkeeper could not listen,” lamented the woman.
Her son was then taken to the police station where he was locked up in cells. When she was informed about the incident, the woman pleaded with the police and explained that she was the one who had given the money to her son to go and buy bread and she did not also know it was a counterfeit as it was given to her by the conductor as change.
“Nalipapata sana kuli bakapokola nati ni kondakita uwampele chenji lintu nalefuma ku Kitwe nomba balikana ati nalechingilila umwana pantu wandi,” (I pleaded very much with the police. I told them I got that money as change from the conductor when I was coming from Kitwe but they refused saying I was protecting the young man because he was my son), said the woman.
She explained that her son was in cells for some days until he was taken to court. From the court he was taken to the remand prison.
“When he went back to the court a few days later, my son pleaded that he was not a criminal but the court ruled that he be jailed for being in possession of counterfeit money,” narrated the woman.
A lot of passengers expressed sadness when the old woman narrated this ordeal.
After listening to this sad story, I remembered another case in which an innocent young man, who was a twin brother of a criminal, was locked up after assaulting a woman when she was walking  home with her husband around 22.00 hours.
The two were attacked by two thugs who fled after assaulting the woman and snatching her hand bag and money from her husband.
When he reported the matter to the police, the man said he would identify the thieves if he came across them.
A few days later, he saw one of the thugs at the market place. He organised people who helped him apprehend the man and dragged him to the police station.
The man was locked up in cells and when his father was informed, he went to the police station. The man knew it was not this son of his who had committed the crime, but his twin brother who was known by many to be a thief, but he could not tell the police this.
When the actual thief heard about his twin brother being nabbed, he fled.
Despite the innocent man pleading that he had not committed any crime, the man was jailed for assault and aggravated robbery.
It was long after the man had served his sentence that the man who made him get jailed came to know that it was the wrong man who had been jailed. It was his twin brother who had committed the crime.
Many people in the bus were very sorry after hearing the old woman’s story but they agreed that that there were many more in prisons who were jailed on behalf of the actual criminals.
We have to be ready. We could be jailed even if we are not criminals.
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