Six Zvishavane gold panners have been sentenced to a combined 106 years in prison for fatally striking a man with a log during a revenge mission on residents of Mandava suburb, who assaulted one of them after accusing him of being a thief.
Andrew Sibanda (19), Tawanda Shumba (21), Pardon Ndlovu (23), Noel Zhou (18), Innocent Malunga and Reason Ndlovu, both 24, appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo facing murder charges and were convicted of murder with constructive intent.
Justice Moyo sitting at the Gweru High Court Circuit yesterday sentenced Sibanda to 16 years taking into account that he had stayed in remand prison for one and half years while awaiting trial. Justice Moyo sentenced Shumba, Ndlovu, Zhou, Malunga and Reason, who were arrested later to 18 years in prison.
In her judgment, Justice Moyo said there was a surge in violent murders perpetrated by gold panners in the country. The six accused have been convicted of murder with constructive intent. On the day in question they set out to take their revenge on residents who had assaulted one of them.
"The deceased was caught in the mayhem; he was an innocent man and had no business in gold mining. There is an increase in violent deaths perpetrated by gold panners and courts frown at such barbaric crime," she said.
She said gold panners were notorious for carrying dangerous weapons, which they used to assault or kill each other. Justice Moyo said although vendors were a menace in city centres, they were not murdering each other as the gold panners were doing. Accused 2 to 6 are sentenced to 18 years and accused one is sentenced to 16 years because he has already spent 18 months in incarceration while awaiting trial," she said.
It was the State's case Shumba was beaten up by residents after a failed robbery on a Mandava couple. When the news reached his friends, they went on a rampage in Mandava burbs, assaulting whoever they met in retaliation. Mr Jabulani Aaron who was caught up in the rampage sought refuge at Mr Edmore Maphosa (46)'s house.
Sibanda, Shumba, Ndlovu, Zhou, Malunga and Zhou followed Mr Aaron and stabbed him on the back three times. Mr Maphosa tried to assist Mr Aaron but was struck with a log and he died. Mr Tafadzwa Mupariwa appeared for the state.