By Leonard Ncube
A MAN from Nkayi teamed up with some villagers to fatally assault a neighbour who had allegedly torched his hut for unspecified reasons, a Bulawayo High Court judge has heard.
Justice Nokuthula Moyo, who is on circuit in Hwange heard that when Phathisa Mahlobo’s kitchen was burnt down last year, he tracked footprints of the suspect to Besta Ncube (64)’s homestead in neighbouring Majuda village.
Mahlobo (45) ganged up with Mthokozisi Dube, Mlandeli Moyo, Bekithemba Dube and Njabulo Mpofu, all from Tshutshu Village, and used knobkerries to assault Ncube who later died on the way to Nesigwe clinic.
Mahlobo pleaded not guilty to murder and guilty to a lesser charge of culpable homicide on Monday.
Justice Moyo said Mahlobo who was represented by Givemore Muvhiringi of Muvhiringi and Partners was lucky to escape with a lighter sentence.
“The accused is a first time offender who did not waste the court’s time. He could have gotten community service had it been any other crime and in this case he is hereby sentenced to 36 months in jail of which 12 are suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour,” said the judge.
Mahlobo, who claimed that Ncube provoked him by torching his kitchen hut, will serve an effective 24 months.His accomplices Dube, Moyo, Bekithemba and Mpofu denied assaulting Ncube.
The four had the charges against them withdrawn before plea because witnesses did not attend court.
They will be summoned for trial once the witnesses are located as the state insists they acted in common purpose.
Prosecuting, Ms Memory Munsaka said the murder took place last year in October.
“On the 28th of October last year and at 7am, the accused together with other villagers tracked footprints of a person who had burnt down his kitchen hut. The footprints led to the deceased’s homestead,” said the prosecutor.
Ncube denied torching Mahlobo’s hut.
Mahlobo struck him once on the shoulder with a knobkerrie, the court heard.
Ncube fled from the scene but Mahlobo and other villagers gave chase and apprehended him.
They continued to assault him with knobkerries.
Mahlobo, Dube, Bekithemba, Moyo and Mpofu together with other villagers, dragged Ncube towards Nesigwe police roadblock and continued to assault him along the way.
They were immediately arrested when they got to the police roadblock.
Police rushed Ncube to Nesigwe Clinic where he was pronounced dead on admission. The Chronicle