Conference Officer in Malawi Accused of Sexual Misconduct with a Child
Added to on Jan. 22. By AT News Team, Jan. 14, 2015: The second ranking administrator in the Central Malawi Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination has been arrested for sexual misconduct with his 13-year-old niece. The Nyasa Times and the Maravi Post both reported that Pastor Harrison Juwa was being held at the police station in Lilongwe late last week.
On Friday (Jan. 9) the nation’s cabinet minister that oversees child protection enforcement, the Hon. Patricia Kaliati, discussed the case in a news conference, which also included the nation’s ranking child protection officer, Inspector Alexander Ngwala. Kaliati described the alleged conduct of the Adventist minister as “barbaric and disgusting,” according to the newspapers.
“I am deeply shocked to learn that a pastor has been defiling his late brother’s daughter since 2011,” stated Kaliati. “We are going to ask the court and the police not to grant bail.” Under the law “the maximum penalty for the offense committed is 14 years in jail,” Kaliati said. She also alleged that Juwa impregnated the girl and that there is a two months old baby.
“The [niece’s] mother knew about this and kept it a secret,” Kaliati further alleged. She stated that law enforcement is also taking action against the parent “for others to learn a lesson.”
Ngwala confirmed the arrest of Juwa and said the child was being taken care of by the suspect after the demise of her father. Stating that “the case is in the court and we cannot say much on it,” Ngwala declined to answer other questions.
There are nearly 3,000 Adventist congregations in Malawi with a total of about 600,000 adherents in a nation with a total population of 17 million. The denomination operated nine primary schools with a total enrollment of 3,300 and seven secondary schools with about 1,100 students, according to the most recent Annual Statistical Report. It operates three hospitals and 17 clinics in the country, as well as Malawi Adventist University, a publishing house, and a radio and television station.
Additional on Jan. 22: Juwa has been given bail and the decision by the court was immediately protested by a cabinet minister in the national government. Minister Patricia Kaliati called Juwa’s alleged offense “rape” and described the bail decision “a monstrous burial of dignity of women.” She expressed “deep shock” because of how serious the charges against Juwa are and said she was “very disappointed” with the court decision about bail. Adventist Today has been told that Juwa’s Adventist conference president appealed to the court for the bail decision.