23 January 2018

Mozambique: Valentina Guebuza Murder - Husband Sentenced to 24 Years

Maputo — The Maputo City Court on Tuesday sentenced businessman Zofimo Muiuane to 24 years imprisonment for the first degree murder of his wife, Valentina Guebuza, daughter of former Mozambican President, Armando Guebuza, on 14 December 2016.

The court also ordered him to pay 50 million meticais (about 840,000 US dollars) in compensation to the Guebuza family.

The judge, Flavia Mondlane, also declared that the court found Muiuane guilty of two other crimes, and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment for the illegal possession of firearms, and eight years for the falsification of an official document. However, the prison sentences will be served simultaneously, since, under normal circumstances, 24 years is the maximum prison term under Mozambican legislation.

The forged document refers to a South African passport found in Muiuane's possession, in the name of “Washington Dube”, but bearing Muiuane's photograph.

In his defence, on 18 December, the first day of the trial, Muiuane painted himself as a spy in the service of Mozambique's Intelligence and Security Service, SISE. Although a document bearing the photograph of one person and the name of another is obviously a fake, whether it was made in South Africa or in Mozambique, Muiuane insisted that the passport was not false, but he could give no details “in order to preserve the integrity of the state”.

But eventually he claimed that the document had been given to him in 2002 by SISE “for a job”, using the pseudonym of Washington Dube. Muiuane was thus making the extraordinarily serious claim that the Mozambican security service forges South African documents. Nobody from SISE was called as a witness to confirm or deny that Muiuane had worked as a spy.

The court rejected Muiuane's claim that Valentina shot herself accidentally. His defence was that, in a bitter argument between them, Valentina pulled out a gun and pointed it at him. He then supposedly tried to disarm her, and in the struggle she pulled the trigger and shot herself.

This account failed to explain how Valentina was shot twice, and was contradicted by the forensic and ballistics evidence, which showed that the gun could not have been fired at point blank range.

Muiuane's story was completely different from the one he told the police shortly after his arrest. As frequently happens in Mozambican criminal cases, he withdrew his signed confession, saying that he had been coerced into confessing by the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), even though his lawyer was present during the interrogation. Witnesses also recalled Muiune saying, on the fatal night, “I did it, I did it. She offended me”.

Judge Mondlane said there were also aggravating circumstances, including Muiuane's ;lack of any sign of repentance during the trial, and his refusal to collaborate with the court in discovering the truth.

Muiuane's lawer, Amadeu Uqueio, announced that his client will appeal against the verdict and sentence. The defence insists that the shooting was accidental, and that the evidence to the contrary is flawed.

The Guebuza family lawyer, Alexandre Chivale, however, declared that the court's decision was just, and praised the “tireless work” done by the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) which provided the evidence on which the court could base its verdict.

The family could not be satisfied, since nothing could bring Valentina back to life, “but, as far as we are concerned, justice has been done, and that is the most important question”, said Chivale.

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