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Imbiber killed for R4

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A 23-YEAR-OLD Bulawayo man who killed a drinking mate for failing to contribute R4 towards the purchase of two litres of opaque beer was yesterday slapped with an effective 18-year jail term.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

Zibusiso Mpofu (24) of Cowdray Park, a security guard at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), had denied murder charges and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide when he appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva.

Mpofu struck Ronald Dhliwayo with a brick on the head resulting in him dying instantly.

Justice Takuva convicted and sentenced Mpofu after a full trial in which three witnesses, Njabulo Dube, Wellington Sithole, who witnessed the fight, and Dr Sanganai Pesanayi, who conducted the autopsy on the deceased, testified.

The State led by Nokuthaba Ngwenya had submitted that Mpofu committed the offence with intent although he later admitted that he was under the influence of alcohol.

“Accused committed serious offence which emanated from a dispute over R4, but which might not have led to the killing of a person,” said Ngwenya.

“The reason for the fight is trivial and the two were workmates who knew each other prior to the murder and this makes moral blame of the accused high.

“The court should pass stiff sentences in cases where human life is lost. The State is asking for a sentence in the region of 15 to 20 years.”

The State also submitted that there were extenuating circumstances to be considered when passing sentence for the accused which, among others, were that he was of youthful age and committed the offence under the influence of alcohol and that he was a first offender.

Mpofu’s lawyer Prayer Muzvuzvu mitigated that his client was a first offender and a family man with an expecting wife. He said the court must consider his plea of a lesser charge of culpable homicide, which was an indication that he had some degree of remorse.

In sentencing Mpofu, Justice Takuva said he had considered the mitigating factors and extenuating circumstances submitted by the State and defence, but the fact remained that he had killed Dhliwayo causing grief to his family.

“Accused’s age is a mitigatory factor, but it is sad that experiences show that most of the murder cases of this nature are these days committed by youths,” Justice Takuva said.

“These happen at drinking spots and you will find that the offenders are between the ages of 20 and 33. They are the ones who commit these violent crimes.”

“From the evidence, it is clear that the accused acted and responded irrationally and irresponsibly resulting in the killing of the now deceased,” he added.

“The sentence to such offenders must send signals to those who drink and fail to restrain themselves from violence. It is meaningless and senseless to kill someone over a debt of R4.

“Certainly life cannot be lost recklessly or taken like that. People get killed for trivial issues and it is the duty of the court to send signals that such offences are prohibited from the society.”

Justice Takuva said Mpofu’s defence was poor and laced with a wave of lies.

The court heard that Mpofu and Dhliwayo were drinking beer together at the corner of Lobengula Street and 13th Avenue when Mpofu requested the now-deceased to contribute R4 to buy beer. Dhliwayo said he had no money, but Mpofu refused to accept that and a misunderstanding ensued and degenerated into a fist fight.

The two went outside the bar and the accused fled towards his place of work at Railway Avenue with the deceased in hot pursuit.

Dhliwayo caught up with Mpofu and the latter picked up a brick and struck the deceased on the back. He temporarily retreated after being restrained by a member of the public, but resumed again.

Mpofu fled, but Dhliwayo pursued him again and the former struck him with a brick on the right side of the head just above the ear killing him on the spot.

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