By Mashudu Netsianda
A Soldier who shot dead his wife, her two siblings and injured his 18-month- old daughter before shooting himself in a failed suicide attempt last year, escaped capital punishment due to ill-health and got away with a 25-year stretch in prison.
Carlos Tinashe Chapeyema (26), who is attached to the Zimbabwe National Army Infantry Battalion Brigade in Battlefields, Kwekwe, was convicted of three counts of murder and attempted murder by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese.
Chapeyema shot his daughter, Munashe, once on the leg but she survived.
His wife, Ashley Phiri (21) and her siblings, Nkosivumile Ncube (17) and Rita Nkomo (24) died on the spot.
In passing the sentence, Justice Makonese said were it not for Chapeyema’s ill-health, he could have sentenced him to death since the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances.
“This is a most horrific case of murder, which was committed in cold blood. The gruesome killings were committed in an aggravating manner and a minor child was also involved,” said Justice Makonese.
The judge said the murder was premeditated given that it was pre-planned and calculated.
“However, the court notes that due to the accused person’s peculiar medical condition after he shot himself which resulted in loss of bowel control in addition to a special diet, the court was forced to be a bit lenient. His condition also presents huge problems for the prisons and correctional services,” said Justice Makonese.
The judge condemned Chapeyema’s conduct, saying domestic violence has no place in a civilised society.
Prosecuting, Mrs Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda said last year on February 1, Chapeyema went to his wife’s family house in New Magwegwe suburb in Bulawayo armed with an AK 47 assault rifle, which was loaded with a magazine of 20 rounds.
He knocked on the door ordering his wife to open. When the door was eventually opened, the accused person stormed into the house and started firing with his rifle.
“The accused person pointed the firearm at his wife who was carrying their daughter in her arms,” said Mrs Ndlovu-Sibanda. Sensing danger, other occupants in the house, Ms Esther Nkomo and Ms Rose Ncube sneaked out of the house.
“Chapeyema opened fire and shot Phiri, Rita and Nkosivumile, killing them instantly,” said the prosecutor.
The court heard that in the process of shooting, Chapeyema shot and injured his daughter and she sustained a fracture on her right lower limb before turning the rifle on himself. Chapeyema phoned his brother-in-law informing him about the incident.
A report was made to the police leading to the accused person’s arrest. The weapon used in committing the offences was recovered at the scene.
In his defence, Chapeyema, who was being represented by Mr Shepherd Chamunorwa of Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners, said at the time of the commission of the offence, he suffered from diminished responsibility coupled with intoxication.
“I have a history of suffering from uncontrollable bouts of anger emanating from a harsh and hostile upbringing which rendered me incapable of considering the consequences of my actions and that contributed to my conduct on that particular day,” he said.
Chapeyema said he got angry after his wife and her siblings revealed to him that he was not the father of his children.
In mitigation, he apologised to the family of the deceased, saying he regretted his actions. The Chronicle