By Mashudu Netsianda
An illegal gold panner raided a tuckshop in Matobo district at night and axed the shop owner to death while his wife watched helplessly before robbing the couple of US$248.
Nhlanhla Mlalazi (29), a gold panner at Syndicate Mine in Matobo district found Mr Vusumuzi Mhlanga (46) and his wife, Ms Dorothy Nduna (48), sleeping in their tuckshop.
He axed Mr Mhlanga before robbing him of the money.
Mlalazi appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa on Friday facing a murder charge in connection with Mr Mhlanga’s death in 2016.
Prosecuting, Mr Kudakwashe Jaravaza said on September 20 in 2016 at around 11.55PM, Mr Mhlanga was sleeping in his tuckshop with his wife, Ms Nduna and their employee Ms Sibonokuhle Nyoni when the accused person came to his shop armed with an axe.
The court heard that Mlalazi destroyed the tuckshop door using the axe to gain entry.
“While inside the shop, the accused person found the deceased and other occupants already up after they were awakened by the sound of the door which was being chopped,” said Mr Jaravaza.
Mlalazi allegedly struck the deceased twice on the forehead and upper limb using the axe. He then allegedly robbed the deceased of a bag containing US$248 and fled from the scene.
A report was made to the police leading to Mlalazi’s arrest.The deceased was rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he later succumbed to the injuries.
According to a post mortem report, the cause of death was due to brain abscess, skull fracture and post assault head injury.
In her testimony, Ms Nduna, narrated how she witnessed her husband being brutally attacked by the accused person while she and their employee, Ms Nyoni, watched helplessly.
“We were sleeping in our tuckshop when we heard a loud bang on the door. My husband woke up first so that he could investigate and he switched on the lights. The accused person chopped off the door and stormed into the shop and started demanding money before striking my husband with an axe on the forehead and upper limb,” she said.
Ms Nduna said although the accused person was wearing a hat, she managed to positively identify him by a scar on his face.
“The accused person took a bag containing US$248 and disappeared but fortunately I managed to identify his face,” she said.
Mlalazi, in his defence, denied the charge saying he was not at the scene of the crime on that particular day. He also accused one Simba Shoko of having misled Ms Nduna into falsely incriminating him.
“There is bad blood between myself and Simba Shoko following a long standing dispute over a mining claim. I believe he is the one who misled Ms Nduna into making a false police report so that he gets an opportunity to take over my mining claim once I am incarcerated,” he said.
Mlalazi is being represented by a lawyer from T Hara and Partners Legal Practitioners.
The trial continues today. The Chronicle