Fidelis Munyoro-Chief Court Reporter
A security guard who fatally assaulted a suspected intruder he spotted roaming a car park he manned in Kuwadzana 5 will spend 20 years in jail for murder, with the judge stressing that no one was allowed to take the law into their own hands and the intruder should have been handed over to police once detained.
Felix Muteve was initially charged along with his two brothers Goodman and Simbarashe Muteve, and two others, Maxwell Rafemoyo and Sam Marange, for the murder of Jamias Bangu six years ago.
The court heard that the five used blocks of wood to attack Bangu and left him for dead. Although he was rushed to hospital, he was pronounced died on admission due to the injuries he sustained.
When the trial opened before Justice Davison Foroma, they all pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.
However, brothers Goodman and Simbarashe Muteve, Rafemoyo and Marange were cleared of the murder and discharged at the close of the State’s case.
The State failed to prove a strong case against those four but established a case against Felix Muteve.
After a fully contested trial, Felix was convicted of Bangu’s murder by assaulting him with a guava tree switch on the head causing injuries from which he died.
Justice Foroma slapped Felix with 20 years’ jail for the murder.
The court, without exonerating the other assailants, found that the death of Bangu was to a large extent a result of Felix’s conduct on the night in question.
Bangu died a painful death as result of Felix’s stubborn refusal to have him released despite the other guards pointing to the victim’s innocence.
After Bangu was apprehended and assaulted, other guards suggested that he be allowed to go as he might have strayed into the car park due to drunkenness and might not have been a thief.
But Felix resisted and subjected Bangu to further beating. He tried to escape but was re-captured and heavily assaulted again by Felix.
Bangu’s limbs were fractured and the court found that such fractures must have been inflicted after his re-capture when he was trying to escape from further assaults.
“The deceased was subjected to brutal assaults when he was in the offender’s captivity resulting in him sustaining wounds from which he died,” said Justice Foroma.
“It is aggravating that the deceased was disabled through torture by his assailants who fractured his limbs thus causing further life threatening injuries to the deceased.”
Justice Foroma said in his judgment that once Bangu had been captured his assailants should have taken him to police or at the very least informed the police that they caught a thief in the car park.
He said the decision to deal with Bangu without alerting the police amounted to the proverbial “taking the law into their own hands”, which the court would not condone.
In passing sentence, the court found that capital punishment was not warranted in the circumstances of the case. However, a sentence which would send the correct message to Bangu and the like minded was called for.