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Soldier who killed wife, two sisters denied bail

By Mashudu Netsianda

The High Court has rejected an application for bail pending trial by a soldier who allegedly fired about 20 shots, killing his wife, her two siblings and injured his 18-month-old daughter before shooting himself in an alleged suicide attempt.

People gather at the shooting scene in New Magwegwe

The incident occurred in February this year in Bulawayo’s New Magwegwe suburb following an infidelity row.

The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese follows an application by Carlos Tinashe Chapeyema (23), who is attached to the Zimbabwe National Army Infantry Battalion Brigade in Battlefields, seeking bail pending trial.

He is facing murder and attempted murder charges.

Chapeyema is receiving nursing care, therapy, daily dressings and medication.

Doctors said his condition is not life threatening as he is fit to stand trial.

Justice Makonese said the State has a strong case against Chapeyema.

“The case against the applicant is very strong and the temptation to abscond is very high. In my view, the applicant is not a proper candidate for bail,” said the judge.

He said due to the gravity of the offence, chances were very high that Chapeyema would abscond if granted bail.

“The applicant is facing very serious charges. He admittedly killed three people by shooting them at point blank range before attempting to kill himself. In the circumstances, and accordingly, the application is hereby dismissed,” ruled Justice Makonese.

Chapeyema, who is a self-actor, in his grounds of appeal said he is of ill-health and wanted to seek medical assistance outside prison.

“I am in a bad health condition of which I cannot be treated while I am in prison since it has proved to be difficult. I suffered serious spinal, chest and abdominal injuries at the scene of the incident and I am now struggling to go to toilet and urgently require a specialist,” he said.

Chapeyema, who is on remand at Khami Prison, said he has been bedridden for the past four months.

He said he is a family man with four children and a grandmother to look after.

“I would like to be granted bail so that I can be able to take care of my children and grandmother while awaiting trial,” said Chapeyema.

He said he was not a flight risk, arguing that his passport is currently in the custody of his employers.

Ms Nokuthaba Ngwenya, who represented the State, opposed the bail application, arguing that there was no guarantee that if granted bail Chapeyema would not abscond given the gravity of the offence.

She argued that Chapeyema was likely to interfere with witnesses. Ms Ngwenya said there was also likelihood that Chapeyema would commit suicide given that he once attempted to kill himself soon after the murder.

According to court papers, on February 1 this year, Chapeyema went to his wife, Ashley Phiri’s house armed with an AK 47 assault rifle, which was loaded with a magazine of 20 rounds.

He knocked at the door demanding that his wife let him in.

When the door was eventually opened, Chapeyema stormed into the house and started firing gunshots at Phiri and her siblings, Nkosivumile Ncube (16) and Rita Nkomo (23) killing them instantly.

Chapeyema then shot his daughter and in the process fracturing her right leg before turning the rifle on himself. The child was taken to Mpilo Central Hospital’s intensive care unit.

He was arrested at the scene and the weapon used in committing the alleged offences was also recovered.

Chapeyema allegedly fired the shots during a power outage caused by the rains.

The couple lived in Mutare but the accused person’s wife is alleged to have returned to her parents, accusing Chapeyema of physically abusing her. The Chronicle