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Shona tribalists get 30 years in jail for murder of Ndebele gold panner

by Staff Reporter
15 Jul 2016 at 07:00hrs | Views
A HIGH Court judge yesterday condemned people who fan tribalism in the country, saying such thinking should not be condoned as it belongs in the Dark Ages.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Francis Bere made the remarks as he sentenced two men from Gokwe to 30 years in jail for participating in the brutal killing of a gold panner in a tribally-motivated fight for the control of gold pits in Shangani.

The judge convicted McIntosh Nhawu (29) and Tapiwa Liberty Maupa (33), both from Zhomba area, of murder with actual intent.

The pair was part of a gang that crushed Mandlenkosi Sibanda's head with a concrete block weighing 29kg in 2013.

Justice Bere, in his judgment, said although Nhawu and Maupa did not directly attack Sibanda (27), they were accomplices by virtue of being part of the gang that executed the criminal enterprise.

The judge also expressed concern over delays by law makers in aligning criminal laws with the constitution with regard to the imposition of the death penalty.

In passing sentence, the judge described the murder as senseless and brutal, which called for a deterrent sentence.

"This is a bad case of murder and in aggravation we accept that it was senseless and brutal. Whenever death occurs, as the courts we've an obligation to continuously emphasise the sanctity of human life," Justice Bere said.

He said the court was particularly concerned with the tribal undertones that characterised the murder.

"Anyone who advocates tribalism is an enemy of this nation and such thinking has long been thrown into the dustbin of history. As courts, we would be failing in our duties if we don't condemn such kind of thinking which must be nipped in the bud. There is no better way of doing so than imposing a deterrent sentence to discourage like-minded people. In the circumstances, accused persons are each sentenced to an effective 30 years in jail," ruled Justice Bere.

The other three suspects who were allegedly linked to the gang, Admire Makoni (23) of Chitungwiza, Brighton Munyiri (27) and Peter Manyuchi (18) both of Buhera, were discharged at the close of the State case after Justice Bere concluded that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against the trio and acquitted them.

Prosecuting, Whisper Mabhaudi said on February 25, 2013, shortly after 10PM at Farai Munashe Bottle store, Tafadzwa Solo confronted Mlamuleli Tshuma and allegedly threatened him in Shona, saying, "nhasi maNdevere ese ndoda kumarova (today I want to assault all Ndebele speaking people)."

The long standing dispute emanated from a feud between Shona and Ndebele gold panners over the control of gold fields in Shangani.

Mabhaudi said Tshuma stood up and headed towards the exit and blocked the door. He said Solo threw an empty bottle of beer at Tshuma and hit him on the forehead.

Mabhaudi said the accused persons grouped together and hatched a plan to assault the Ndebeles in the area. They chased Sibanda and caught up with him before assaulting him using stones and concrete blocks and fled from the scene leaving the body lying in a pool of blood.

The owner of the bottle store, Ms Sikhanyisiwe Nkomo, told the court that she woke up after hearing noise which emanated from outside her house.

"I woke up and peeped through the window and saw about six men throwing stones at Sibanda. They were shouting in Shona saying, 'let us kill these Ndebeles.' After the mob had dispersed, I went to the scene and found Sibanda lying motionless and called the police," she said.

According to a postmortem report, the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, homicide and subarachnoid haemorrhage. Both accused persons denied the charge, arguing that they were only innocent bystanders who witnessed the incident but did not participate in the commission of the crime.

Maupa and Nhawu though their lawyers, Ms Tshimumoyo Ndlovu and Solomon Mguni, pleaded for mercy, saying they were breadwinners looking after minor children.

Source - Chronicle