By Mashudu Netsianda
A poacher who ganged up with a colleague and fatally attacked a member of the neighbourhood watch committee when he confronted them over illegal fishing at a dam in Filabusi, was yesterday sentenced to 18 years in jail.
Tawanda Makonese (32) of Mberengwa allegedly connived with Tariro Chiuya, who is still at large, and fatally struck Mr Mpumelelo Mpofu (49) with a log for threatening to arrest them for poaching fish in Habe Dam. They also robbed Mr Mpofu of his cellphone.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva convicted Makonese of murder with constructive intent.
In passing sentence, Justice Takuva condemned Makonese’s actions, saying the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life through passing harsh and deterrent sentences.
“These courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life as it is sacred and God -given. This was a brutal and callous murder, which resulted in an unnecessary loss of life. The accused person and his accomplice committed a wicked deed when they tore his clothes to pieces leaving him stark naked and as a result he lost his dignity,” he said.
The judge said the accused person deserved a custodial sentence for his inhumane actions.
“The manner in which the accused person treated the deceased was cruel, inhumane and degrading and this is why the accused person deserves a stiff penalty. The accused person must be punished for his evil deeds and accordingly, you are sentenced to 18 years imprisonment,” ruled Justice Takuva.
Prosecuting, Mr Nqobizitha Ndlovu said on November 6 in 2015 at around 6.30PM, Mr Mpofu was doing some gardening at Habe Co-operative Gardening project in Gwatemba, Filabusi when he spotted Makonese and Chiuya illegally casting nets into Habe Dam.
“The deceased confronted the accused person and his accomplice and told them that they were under arrest for poaching fish,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said Makonese and Chiuya struck the deceased with a log twice on the forehead and once on the right arm before ripping off all his clothes using an okapi knife and stole his cellphone.
“After attacking the deceased, Makonese and Chiuya stole his Samsung cellphone and left him lying unconscious at the scene of the crime,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The deceased later regained consciousness and staggered towards his home while screaming for help. His wife, Ms Sifiso Ndebele, heard him from a distance and rushed to the scene in the company of a neighbour.
Ms Ndebele found her husband seated on the pathway about 150 metres away from their home and he was bleeding profusely.
Ms Ndebele and her neighbour took the deceased to Filabusi District Hospital where he later died on admission due to injuries sustained. According to a postmortem report, the cause of death was cerebral damage and oedema, depressed skull fracture and severe head trauma.
A report was made to the police and investigations led to Makonese’s arrest. His accomplice is still at large.
Mr Abednico Ndebele of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers represented Makonese. The Chronicle