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Three MDC activists jailed for killing Zanu-PF supporter in Gokwe

By Munyaradzi Musiiwa and Merjury Magaya

Three MDC supporters who allegedly killed a Zanu-PF supporter who was celebrating the ruling party’s controversial victory in the 2008 Presidential elections have been sentenced to a combined 10 years in jail after they were convicted of culpable homicide.

Justice Maxwell Takuva inspects a quarter guard mounted by ZRP in Hwange (file pic)
Justice Maxwell Takuva inspects a quarter guard mounted by ZRP in Hwange (file pic)

The three — Cleopas Ngwenya (70), Owen Ngwenya (37) and Gilbert Nkomo (65) — all of Jamu village under Chief Chireya in Gokwe North, appeared before Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva, sitting in Gweru.

They were convicted on their own plea of guilty to culpable homicide.

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Ngwenya and Nkomo were sentenced to four years each that were wholly suspended on condition of good behaviour while Owen was sentenced to two years in jail of which one year was also suspended on condition of good behaviour.

In passing the sentence, Justice Takuva said in view of their age groups, the first and third accused persons are now in the twilight of their lives therefore it would not serve any purpose to give them a custodial sentence.

He said in the same vein, the second accused person should not get a sentence which is substantially different from that imposed on his co-accused persons.

Justice Takuva said the court also considered that the accused persons were prejudiced by the delay in prosecution by the State which took 11 years to try the matter. He said the court also considered that the offence was committed in 2008 at the height of political tensions.

“In passing the sentence, the court considered that the accused persons are first offenders and they pleaded guilty. The accused persons also have families to look after. The first accused person is 70-years-old while the second accused person is now 65. Both are in the twilight of their lives.

“The offence was committed as a result of political violence. The deceased was a Zanu-PF member and the accused persons are MDC supporters. It was committed during the 2008 harmonised elections where political violence was rife. The deceased person was celebrating the victory of his party together with his colleagues. We considered that he was aggressive,” said Justice Takuva.

“We also considered that there was a delay in the prosecution of the matter. We also want people in the rural areas to learn to be able to live with their neighbours who also support other political parties”.

It was the State’s case that on 30 June 2008 in Jamu village in Gokwe North, the now deceased, who was a Zanu-PF member, went to Cleopas’ homestead singing revolutionary songs denouncing him.

The deceased and his colleagues who were armed with knobkerries also demanded that Cleopas and his family vacate their homestead.

A fight ensued resulting in the deceased being fatally assaulted. The Chronicle