Cop killers sentencing date set

Source: Cop killers sentencing date set | The Herald December 8, 2016

Chief Court Reporter—
Three MDC-T activists who were convicted of killing Police Inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View, Harare, five years ago are expected to appear at the High Court on Monday next week for sentencing. Tungamirai Madzokere (41), who was then councillor for Glen View Ward 32; Yvonne Musarurwa (29), the party’s youth deputy secretary; and Last Maengahama (40), a member of the party’s national executive, were in September this year convicted of murder with actual intent.

Their accomplice, Phineas Nhatarikwa, was convicted of a lesser charge of being an accessory to crime. Insp Mutedza was brutally stoned to death at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre by MDC-T activists in May 2011.

The State, led by prosecutor Mr Edmore Nyazamba, wants capital punishment imposed on the two men for the murder of Mutedza. He argued that the law now allows imposition of the death penalty on convicts of murder in aggravating circumstances, following the recent amendment of the criminal law statute that deals with a crime of murder.

“In view of the amendment of the law, it is important for the court to determine whether the offence was committed in aggravating circumstances,” said Mr Nyazamba. He said murdering a policeman on duty was on its own an aggravation. It was also Mr Nyazamba’s submission that the court should protect the interests of peace by removing the trio from society.

However, lead defence counsel Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, urged the court to consider the circumstances under which the trio was convicted. She blamed the death of Mutedza on the police brutality whenever they deal with opposition party members and members of the public.

“The highest possible sentence sought would not be justified but clearly fuel the perception of selective application of the law when dealing with certain political players,” she said. Ms Mtetwa also argued that the prosecution evidence did not identify the actual perpetrators. The doctrine of common purpose used to secure conviction on the trio, Ms Mtetwa argued was not part of our law.

“It was a tool that was used in Rhodesia to suppress blacks in Rhodesia, it was also a tool used in South Africa during the Apartheid era,” said Ms Mtetwa. “The doctrine of common purpose must not be used to suppress the rights of the people guaranteed in the Constitution.”

The lawyer also urged the court to take the opportunity of this case to condemn police brutality. “Zimbabwe was suffering from politically-motivated deaths, disappearances and torture by known assailants.

“Concerns have been raised pertaining to the selective application of the law.” Justice Chinembiri Bhunu — sitting with assessors Messrs Patrick Musengezi and Alexander Mhandu — postponed the matter in September to consider appropriate sentence.