The High Court sentenced a Harare man to death by hanging yesterday for killing his lover and her three children. Bernard Mazhandu Mucheka, who had spent five years in custody waiting for finalisation of his matter, was convicted on four counts of murder and another four for attempted murder.
Mucheka burnt the house the woman was in after she dumped him. Four other minors who were in the room on the fateful day survived, but sustained injuries ranging from 33, 40 and 42 percent of superficial burns of the total body surface area on the necks, trunk, abdomen, back and limbs, and were detained in hospital up to seven months.
High Court judge Esther Muremba said Mucheka premeditated the crime and the court was constrained to impose a death penalty in the circumstances. “In count one to four, the accused person shall be returned to custody and the sentence of death executed upon him,” Muremba said. She further sentenced Mucheka to life imprisonment for attempted murders.
Muremba said the prosecutor Beaven Murevanhema was able to prove that there were aggravating circumstances that called for a death penalty in accordance with section 47 (a) which provides for death, imprisonment for life, or 20 years imprisonment.
“The murder was heinous, premeditated, planned and executed in a heinous manner. After Lorraine Mutetwa had broken up with the accused person, he decided to go and buy five litres of petrol, the next day boarded a kombi to Epworth and waited till 11pm to execute his plan,” Muremba said as she passed sentence.
“He poured petrol on the door mat, broke the window and poured the petrol before throwing a match stick. He knew Mutetwa had her four children were sleeping inside the house and his narration and confession shows he had planned how he would execute the murder.
“Premeditation tips the scales of justice in favour of a death sentence in accordance with section 47 (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).” Muremba said Mucheka had not shown remorse during trial after causing the death and suffering of seven other people who knew nothing about his affair with Mutetwa.
“The accused person had dated Mutetwa for four years and said she had wasted his time and caused him pain by dumping him and squandering his money. He said the other three people were caught in a cross fire.
“Death by fire alone is very traumatic, horrific and causes excruciating pain. He knew the occupants would be sleeping since it was midnight and would take them time to unlock the doors. The fire would quickly engulf the house and he clearly did not want anyone to come out alive.
“Murdering a minor is an aggravating circumstance and in this case three minors were murdered who had no offence against the accused person…to him they were just collateral damage.”
According to Murevanhema, Mucheka and Mutetwa were lovers since 2011.
Murevanhema proved that sometime in 2013, Mutetwa discovered that Mucheka was married and terminated her relationship with him.