By Mashudu Netsianda
A man who ganged up with two accomplices, one of them his nephew, and fatally stabbed a villager, ripping his stomach open before dumping him at an abandoned police base where he later died, was yesterday sentenced to an effective 30 years in jail.
Johannes Moyo (45) of Kezi in Matobo district was convicted of murder with actual intent by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo.
Moyo, who has been on the run for almost 14 years after killing Japhet Sithole (31) in 2002, was lucky to escape life imprisonment due to ill-health.
Moyo and his accomplices stabbed Sithole, who was employed at Pillow Mine in Kezi, five times leading to his death for walking into a bar carrying a hammer.
In her judgment, Justice Moyo dismissed Moyo’s partial defence of provocation, saying he was the aggressor who set in motion the chain of events that eventually led to him fatally assaulting Sithole.
“This is one of the most unfortunate events whereby a defenceless man is killed for merely walking into a bar carrying a hammer which he intended to give to a bar lady for safekeeping.
‘‘The deceased died an unnecessary and painful death, being held down by the accused person’s accomplices as the accused stabbed him five times in the abdomen and pierced vital organs,” she said.
The judge said under normal circumstances Moyo deserved to spend his entire life in jail. She however, spared him the agony of life imprisonment due to ill-health.
“The interest of justice demands that where a life has been lost, the court should register its displeasure through passing deterrent sentence.
Murder is a serious offence, and in this case, it was committed in totally unwarranted circumstances,” said Justice Moyo.
“An innocent life was needlessly lost under very painful circumstances. This is an offence whose circumstances are that accused could have been given life imprisonment. He only has in his favour the aspect of ill-health and intoxication and it is for these reasons that accused person is sentenced to 30 years in jail,” ruled Justice Moyo
Moyo connived with his nephew, Francisco Phiri and Novity Ndlovu to commit the gruesome murder.
Phiri is on the run while Ndlovu has since died.
Prosecuting, Mr Trust Muduma said on May 25, 2002, at about 9PM, Moyo and his accomplices were drinking beer at a bar at Ndabankulu Business Centre in Kezi when Sithole walked in carrying a hammer. The three men intercepted Sithole as he was going towards the counter and demanded to know why he was carrying a hammer in the bar.
Sithole told the trio that he intended to hand it over to the bar lady for safekeeping, but the three men were not convinced.
They attacked him and confiscated the hammer.
Ndlovu punched Sithole and he fell down before Moyo and his nephew joined in and started assaulting him.
Sithole rose to his feet and bolted out of the bar and ran towards a nearby police base with the three men in hot pursuit. When Sithole arrived at the police base, there was no one to attend to him and he ran back towards the business centre to seek refuge.
Moyo and his two accomplices caught up with Sithole before he reached the shops.
“They pushed him to the ground and pinned him down. Ndlovu and Phiri held Sithole’s hands as Moyo stabbed him on the stomach and chest,” said Mr Muduma.
They dragged Sithole to the abandoned police base where they dumped him before they fled leaving him for dead.
Sithole died while being taken to Maphisa Hospital by a Good Samaritan.
Moyo was arrested this year after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and got admitted to a local hospital.
In mitigation through his lawyer Ms Taboka Nyathi of Vundhla-Phulu and Partners, Moyo said he was a widower taking care of two minor children. Chronicle