23 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Machete-Wielding Gang Leader Jailed for Murder

The leader of a notorious gang of machete-wielding illegal gold panners in Musanditeera, Chimanimani, has been jailed for 20 years after he was found guilty of killing another illegal miner.

Godfrey Shumba was slapped with the lengthy jail term when he appeared before Mutare High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera charged with murder.

He appeared along with Jonathan Zambakiyana who was acquitted of the charge after a full trial.

Shumba had denied ever attacking and killing Aaron Mtisi, saying he was only forced by one Maxwell and colleagues to go to the gold panning site where Mtisi and his team were.

Circumstances leading to Shumba's arrest were that on July 31, 2016 at around midnight at Musanditeera gold panning area, Chimanimani, Shumba assaulted Mtisi using stones, machetes and wooden sticks all over the body.

He told the court that Mtisi was in the habit of borrowing from tuckshop owners and not pay for the goods.

Shumba said on the day in question, Maxwell, who was in the company of 15 men, instructed him to join them as they proceeded to the market and later to the gold panning area.

Justice Mwayera, in sentencing Shumba, said the manner in which the offence was committed is indicative of desire to achieve the unlawful enterprise.

She said the pouring of petrol and lighting a fire at the place in which Mtisi was hiding was not only callous, but cruel as the deceased could potentially have been set ablaze.

"The perpetration of a heartless and brutal attack indiscriminately using machetes and sticks on the deceased further aggravates the offence.

"The manner of attack left the deceased with no chance of survival. Despite the deceased's desire to escape from the mob attack led by yourself, you were determined to achieve the end as you severely assaulted the deceased and left him for the dead," she said.

Justice Mwayera said the Legislature, in its wisdom, provided for capital punishment, life imprisonment or any other shorter term as a way of expressing that murder is viewed with abhorrence by society.

"The courts have to weigh in and in appropriate circumstances impose death penalty. In the circumstances of this case, it is our considered view that a lengthy imprisonment term is called for given the manner in which you teamed up with a gang for purposes of taking away another life," she said.

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