By Mashudu Netsianda
BULAWAYO – An HIV positive Plumtree traditional healer who stabbed his neighbour 14 times suspecting he was having an affair with his wife has been sentenced to 30 years in jail at the High Court.
In passing sentence, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha said he could have sentenced Bekezela Maphepha Mpofu, 46, to life in prison were it not for his condition.
Justice Kamocha convicted Mpofu of Bhulu Village, in Mpoengs area of murder with actual intent but concluded that there was an extenuating circumstance.
The judge concurred with both defence and State counsels that a belief by Mpofu that Sibanda had an affair with his wife influenced his action.
He said that belief was the extenuating circumstance.
Mpofu denied that he intentionally killed Nkululelo Sibanda, 30, after suspecting he had an affair with his wife, Bekezela Ndlovu, 26.
Mpofu stormed Sibanda’s bedroom hut while he was sleeping with his girlfriend, Flora Sibanda and indiscriminately stabbed him to death using a double-edged home-made knife.
However, Justice Kamocha dismissed Mpofu’s evidence as full of inconsistencies.
“Mpofu’s testimony had a lot of discrepancies and it contradicted with his warned and cautioned statement hence it can’t be relied upon. However, on the other hand, the state witnesses were credible and worthy to be believed,” he said.
The judge said Mpofu lacked proof that his neighbour had an affair with his wife.
“Mpofu only harboured a belief that his neighbour had an affair with his wife yet he had no proof. He armed himself with a spear-like knife measuring 16cm and stabbed Sibanda in the ribcage and chest knowing that death was a substantial certainty.
“He, however, continued to drive the knife into a human body 14 times and accordingly we find him guilty of murder with actual intent,” said the judge.
Justice Kamocha said it was the duty of the courts to uphold the sanctity of human life.
“The fact that you harboured the belief that your neighbour was having an affair with your wife doesn’t justify the brutal manner in which you killed him. This murder was committed in a most brutal fashion,” he said.
“Mpofu needs to be severely punished for killing a person in a brutal manner.
“Hadn’t it been that you are sick, I was going to sentence you to life imprisonment. The court felt sympathy because of your HIV status and accordingly the justice of the matter will be met by sentencing you to 30 years in jail,” ruled Justice Kamocha.
Prosecuting, Nokuthabo Ngwenya said on April 19, 2014 shortly after 9PM, Mpofu had an altercation with his wife, Ndlovu, whom he accused of having an affair with Sibanda.
Ngwenya said the couple was sleeping on their bed when the argument broke out.
The court heard that during the course of the argument, Mpofu sprung from the bed and ordered his wife to also rise before he force-marched her to Sibanda’s homestead.
“He ordered his wife to lead him to their neighbour’s homestead intending to get an explanation from Ndlovu’s alleged boyfriend,” said Ngwenya.
The court heard that on arrival at Sibanda’s homestead, Mpofu knocked on the door.
Soon after Mpofu had identified himself, Sibanda opened the door and Mpofu pushed his wife into the hut before he stormed into the room.
“Mpofu entered the hut and found Sibanda with his girlfriend, Flora Sibanda.
“Mpofu, without saying anything, drew out a knife and stabbed Sibanda three times on the left rib, thrice on the chest, twice in the neck, five times on the left arm and once on the right thigh.
“Sibanda died instantly,” said Ngwenya.
Soon after the crime, Ndlovu fled the scene.
Mpofu chased after his wife and when he caught up with her, he stabbed her on the left hip. He went into hiding.
Sibanda was found lying in a pool of blood by relatives and neighbours who then informed the police. Mpofu was arrested a month later.
Through his lawyer, Innocent Mafirakureva, Mpofu had pleaded for leniency, arguing that he was a first offender looking after nine children. The Chronicle