Two years after a security guard in Lilongwe, Cephas Chimdima, came to the limelight for a pitiful reason when the dogs of his master maimed him, the case has finally come to a conclusion.The Lilongwe Magistrate Court on Tuesday last week convicted owner of the dogs Dean van Schalhwal of negligence.
On the evening of July 14, 2010, van Schalhwal's dogs savaged Chimdima, then 72, when he was reporting for work at van Schalhwal's residence.
The incident attracted country-wide attention from human rights activists and politicians including the then president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who verbally condemned the incident and attacked some "white residents for treating Malawians like dogs".
Chimdima got admitted at Kamuzu Central Hospital but had to undergo surgery in South Africa.
Now, van Schalhwal has been convicted.
However Judge Chifundo Kachale, sitting as Chief resident Magistrate, acquitted van Schalhwal on the offence of an act intended to cause grievous harm.
In an interview on Thursday, Head of Prosecutions and Legal services at the national police headquarters, Happy Mkandawire, said Van Schalhwal's sentencing will be on September 13.
"Currently the state is trying to enlighten the court the right sentence that can be given to Van Schalhwal. Experts are to be involved to examine impairment caused on Mr. Chimdima," Mkandawire said.
He added that the court observed that the dogs van Schalhwal was keeping were a dangerous breed, which at the time of the incident, he failed to control.
He said the court noted that the fact that some of the dogs were killed was a clear indication that what Van Schalhwal was doing was wrong.
When the dogs mauled Chimdima in 2010, police arrested Van Schalhwal on July 23 of the same year after public protests following the incident.
He was initially charged of negligence, an act intended likely to cause grievous harm and conduct likely to cause breach of peace. The third charge was however later dropped.
Mid last year, the dog owner paid Chimd ima K540,000 in compensation through the government.
The matter attracted attention and condemnation not only because of the extent of mutilation the vicious dogs had inflicted on Chimdima, but also because it was learnt that immediately after the dogs damaged him, Van Schalhwal connived with a hospital official at Kamuzu Central Hospital and had Chimdima tested for HIV apparently to ascertain whether his dogs could have been infected by the virus after the mauling.