By Fidelis Munyoro
The Budiriro man who fatally stabbed his estranged wife’s employer four times with a kitchen knife during a domestic dispute avoided a murder conviction when his guilty plea to the lesser violent crime of culpable homicide was accepted by the prosecution.
Culpable homicide is when a person is to blame for the death, by doing something that any reasonable person would recognise could lead to death or serious injury, but where there is no intent to kill.
Norbert Chipendeme will still serve an effective 10 years in jail.
Chipendeme initially denied murdering Takunda Butete, before capitulating in the middle of giving his evidence-in-chief during his defence and offered a plea of guilty to culpable homicide.
The prosecution accepted the plea.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi, sitting with assessors, then whacked Chipendeme with 12 years in jail of which two years were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
In passing sentence, Justice Chitapi said Chipendeme’s moral blameworthiness was of a high degree.
In the circumstances, the court noted that a substantial term of imprisonment will be appropriate to not only punish Chipendeme for his wrong but to deter him and other like-minded persons from engaging in violence or adopting avenging reactions to solve social problems instead of looking to non-violent ways and the law for protection.
“Human life is not cheap and courts must safeguard the sanctity of human life,” said Justice Chitapi. “A life taken is gone forever. The deceased becomes history.”
Chipendeme and his wife were estranged with the wife having left to seek employment as a housemaid. The Herald