19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Death Penalty On Murderer Upheld

The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence imposed on a murderer who has been on the death row for the past 15 years.George Munyaradzi Manyonga's dreams of surviving the hangman's noose were shattered after the highest court in the land threw out his Constitutional application.

He also sought to quash both the conviction and sentence against him.

Manyonga was convicted of murder with actual intent in 1995 and was sentenced to death in 1997. The court could not find extenuating factors to pass any sentence other than the death penalty. He was entitled to an automatic appeal at the Supreme Court but there was an inordinate delay in the prosecution of the appeal until 2009 when his lawyers filed a Constitutional application for permanent stay of the proceedings. Justice Misheck Cheda dismissed the application for lack of merit.

"It follows that even if one accepts, as one must, that the delay in prosecuting the appeal is inordinate, the permanent stay of proceedings for which the applicant prays cannot be granted," said Justice Cheda dismissing the application.

Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Paddington Garwe agreed. Manyonga committed the offence when he was aged 20. He connived with a friend called Lloyd Munemo and pounced on Mr Lawrence Marufu who was guarding a shop in Rusike area.

The duo subdued Mr Marufu and broke into the shop where they looted groceries and various other items. They force-marched Mr Marufu to a disused hut some 3km away from the shop. The duo assaulted Mr Marufu, chopped off his left wrist and thereafter hanged him on a roof pole. He then died.

Villagers discovered the decomposing corpse some days after the murder.

Manyonga was arrested while selling kapenta fish that was part of the loot.

Munemo was acquitted while Manyonga was convicted in 1995. After sentence, Manyonga's appeal was not heard until 2009 when he filed a Constitutional application. In The Supreme Court in dismissing the application found that the arguments advanced by Manyonga were a mixed bag. The bulk of the heads of argument was more applicable to an appeal than to a Constitutional application.

In the application, Manyonga argued that his right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as enshrined under Section 18 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe had been contravened by the delay in prosecution of his appeal. He argued that his incarceration on death row since 1997 constituted torture and inhuman treatment.

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