By Mashudu Netsianda
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against conviction and sentence by three detectives serving a combined 30 years imprisonment for taking turns to fatally assault a suspect who was detained in cells.
Chikena Mupande of Flat B, Glen Norah Camp in Harare, Nqobani Mkwananzi of 6717 Westlea, Harare and Renias Mapfumo formerly attached to the CID Vehicle Theft Squad in Harare were convicted of culpable homicide by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Moyo in 2014 in connection with the death of Oliver Nyagondo (30).
They were each sentenced to 10 years in jail but two years were suspended for five years on condition that they do not within that period commit a similar offence.
The cops accused the deceased of breaking into Mupande’s house in Mvuma in December 2007 before taking turns to assault him with a baton under his feet and all over his body resulting in his death.
Supreme Court judge Justice Marie-Anne Gowora sitting with Justices Francis Bere and Antonia Guvava during a Supreme Court circuit in Bulawayo recently upheld the decision of the lower court.
“The appeal against both conviction and sentence be and hereby dismissed,” ruled the judge.
In their appeal citing the State as a respondent, the three cops through their lawyers Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners, argued that one of the key witnesses was also a suspect implicated by the other suspects who were detained with the deceased.
“The court a quo erred in failing to treat the evidence of one Stanslous Madyara with deserved caution as he was a suspect witness,” argued the appellants’ lawyers.
They further argued that the lower court erred by disregarding the evidence of one Munyaradzi Chirwa which corroborated their story.
They said the sentence imposed induced a sense of shock, arguing that it gave more weight to the aggravating factors instead of balancing with the mitigatory ones.
The State, which was represented by Ms Nokuthaba Ngwenya, opposed the application, arguing that both the conviction and sentence were proper.
According to court papers, on December 31, 2007, Mupande’s house in Mvuma was broken into allegedly by Nyagondo and his accomplices.
Three days later, Mupande, Mkhwananzi and Mapfumo went to Mvuma and started interrogating Nyagondo and the other suspects.
They took turns to beat up Nyagondo with a baton under the feet and all over the body several times, forcing him to confess.
After the assault, Mupande, Mkwananzi and Mapfumo returned Nyagondo to the cells but he could neither sit nor walk properly.
Mupande was told Nyagondo was dying but he initially refused to take the deceased to hospital.
Nyagondo’s condition deteriorated resulting in the three police officers taking him to Mvuma District Hospital where he was admitted.
After two days, Nyagondo was transferred to Gweru Provincial Hospital where he died on January 10 in 2008.
A post-mortem carried out at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo revealed that Nyagondo’s death was a result of asphyxia, trauma (assault) and aspiration.
A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of the three cops. The Chronicle