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Girlfriend ‘killer’ pilot loses bail appeal

By Mashudu Netsianda

The High Court has rejected an application for bail pending trial by an Airforce of Zimbabwe pilot who is accused of brutally murdering his Gweru-based girlfriend late last year.

Tashinga Musonza
Tashinga Musonza

Tashinga Edward Musonza (29) of Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru allegedly killed Lucy Duve (32) in a crime of passion in November last year.

The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese followed an application by Musonza, through his lawyer Mr James Makiya, citing the State as a respondent.

In dismissing the application, Justice Makonese said the State case was strong hence there was no guarantee that if given bail, Musonza would not abscond.

“There can be no dispute that the applicant brutally assaulted the deceased leading to her death. The applicant has raised his defence as he must, but it is the court’s view that the State case is strong. There are compelling reasons in this matter of ensuring that the applicant does not abscond to avoid trial,” said the judge.

Justice Makonese said releasing Musonza on bail would compromise the administration of justice.

“The applicant may be tempted to abscond if granted bail and he is also well aware that if convicted, a lengthy prison sentence is inevitable. That on its own is sufficient inducement for the applicant to abscond. In the circumstances, accordingly the application is hereby dismissed,” ruled Justice Makonese.

Musonza’s trial last month failed to kick off for the second time after his lawyer fell sick resulting in the matter being removed from the roll by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo.

Musonza is also challenging the presence of assessors on the High Court bench and has since filed a notice to appeal at the Constitutional Court.

The matter was then remanded following an application made by the defence counsel to have the matter referred to the Constitutional Court.

In his bail statement, Musonza argued that there were no compelling reasons justifying his continued detention.

“The applicant is entitled to his constitutional right to liberty and there is the assumption of innocence until proven guilty which must be considered in this matter. There are no compelling reasons to deny the applicant bail in this matter,” said Mr Makiya.

Musonza said he would not abscond or interfere with State witnesses if granted bail, arguing that the assertion by the State was mere speculation which lacks tangible evidence.

The State through Mr Nqobizitha Ndlovu opposed the bail application, arguing that there was no guarantee that if granted bail Musonza would not abscond due to the seriousness of the offence.

Mr Ndlovu said the State has strong prima facie case against Musonza.

According to court papers, Musonza allegedly fatally assaulted Duve, who was working for a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), accusing her of cheating on him with his colleague.

It is alleged that on November 25, Musonza went to their lodgings at around 10PM and found Duve asleep.

He allegedly accused her of cheating on him with his colleague.

The two allegedly drove to the airbase since Musonza wanted the matter clarified.

They allegedly woke up Duve’s alleged lover who denied being in a relationship with her.

Musonza allegedly got furious and started assaulting his girlfriend.

His colleague tried to restrain him but was overpowered before he ran away from the scene to seek assistance from colleagues.

Upon their return they found Duve lying unconscious in a pool of blood.

Musonza later drove Duve to Clay Bank Hospital in the company of two of his colleagues and another female who was said to be Duve’s friend.

She was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital leading to the arrest of Musonza. The Chronicle