13 May 2019

Tanzania: Court Dismisses Man's Death Appeal Case of Witchcraft Belief

THE Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal presented by a resident of Geita Region, Mathias Tangawizi, alias Lushinge, to oppose death sentence imposed on him for killing his mother-in-law, Sophia Kamuli, over witchcraft beliefs.

Justices Mbarouk Mbarouk, Jacobs Mwambegele and Mwanaisha Kwariko rejected the defence by Tangawizi, the appellant, that he had killed his in-law, because she was bewitching him, including making him frequently to become sick and causing the death of his son.

Referring to some other past verdicts, they pointed out that the appellant did not mention ever finding the deceased in any unusual act, let alone uttering any witchcraft threats to him, in relation to being a suspect in the death, which could lead to the murder.

"Even if the deceased was a proven witch and caused the death of the appellant's child, could it be said that the appellant was provoked by that act? Our answer to that question is in the negative," the justices said in the judgment delivered in Mwanza City Registry recently.

They pointed out that the death occurred on July 17, 2007, while the appellant killed the deceased on May 24, 2008.

If anything, the justices further noted, the appellant had sufficient time to cool down and that on the material day, there was no any acts by the deceased, which might have provoked him.

According to them, the appellant had also said in his defence evidence that not even any of his traditional healers told him that the deceased was a witch to have poisoned his mind to kill her.

They further observed that as regards the suspected poisoned food, that the appellant mentioned in evidence, it was not the first time that the deceased had prepared food for him, when she visited his home in September, 2007.

"The foregoing analysis shows that the appellant's belief on witchcraft on the part of the deceased was unfounded. The evidence proved that the appellant had formed intention to kill the deceased and he executed that intention on May 24, 2008," the justice said.

They concluded by holding that "the trial court rightly convicted the accused with murder and legally sentenced him. In fine, we find no reason to fault the trial court's decision and hold that the appeal has no merit and we hereby dismiss it in its entirety."

On May 24, 2008 at about 3:00 am the appellant visited the home of his brother-inlaw complaining to be sick and he was taken to hospital.

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