A man who buried his wife's love child alive will never leave prison, a judge ruled yesterday.
Evil Andrew Mhodi, 40, of Fort Rixon, made his wife watch as he buried the day-old tot in a shallow grave after being overcome by a fit of anger. Deliwe Tsikai was not at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday to see her monster husband jailed – but it was the couple's eight-year-old daughter whose key evidence helped send her father away for the rest of his life.
Justice Martin Makonese said the killing was a "bad case of murder".
"You've been convicted of murder with actual intent… This is a very bad case of murder, because an innocent life was lost. You took away the life of a day-old baby in painful manner as it choked to death in the shallow grave," the judge told Mhodi, who stood motionless in the dock as the guilty verdict was read.
Justice Makonese said the manner in which Mhodi turned away from the grave headed home with his wife showed no remorse for his actions.
"It doesn't matter that you took away life of a day-old baby, life is very important and it should not be taken away no matter how old the victim is and in such a manner. This court finds you guilty and you are sentenced to life imprisonment."
Justice Makonese spared Mhodi the death sentence after finding that his "moral blameworthiness" had been lessened by the fact that his wife gave birth to a baby by another man.
"In its finding, the court discovered that Mhodi was pushed into committing the crime by the discovery that his wife was impregnated by another man. Any reasonable man would not rejoice that his wife is carrying another man's child and that reduces the man's moral blameworthiness," said Justice Makonese.
The judge said the moral blameworthiness was reduced by the deep-seated anger which was re-ignited by the birth of the baby boy.
Mhodi's defence that the baby was a still-born collapsed after his eight-year-old daughter told the court that her father referred to the baby as a "thing" soon after its birth.
"After the birth of the baby, he asked mum a question saying what she was going to do with her thing," the girl testified.
She confirmed that the baby was born alive, was bathed and breastfed by her mother. She also told court that she held the tot in her arms.
She recalled the morning of April 7 last year when her father returned home from burying her brother alive on a river bank.
She said he had made a sand and water concoction which he took in his mouth and then spat on the ground and uttered the words: "Ngeke ngavukelwa lusane (I can't be haunted by a baby's spirit)."
Justice Makonese said the evidence given by Mhodi's daughter was compelling, consistent and coherent and proved the state case that the infant was born alive.
A post mortem produced in court did not give conclusive evidence that the baby was born alive as the body was at an advanced stage of decomposition when it was conducted.
However, the pathologist noted that the baby was wrapped in a blanket and fully dressed.
Timothy Makoni, prosecuting, told the High Court that sometime in 2010, Mhodi — a farm labourer — left his wife and their five children in Chinhoyi.
He found new employment in Fort Rixon.
"He stayed in Fort Rixon for three years and never bothered to visit or communicate with his family and only turned up on March 13 last year and found his wife heavily pregnant for another man," said Makoni.
The court heard that he pretended that he was not bothered by the pregnancy and persuaded his wife to accompany him to Fort Rixon.
His wife travelled with him and two of their children, including the eight-year-old girl.
"On April 7, Tsikai gave birth to a baby boy and at around 9AM on the same morning, Mhodi, armed with a pick and shovel, instructed his wife to accompany him to the nearby bush," Makoni said.
Mhodi, the trial heard, started digging a pit and forcibly took the infant from its mother, laid him in the pit wrapped in a small blanket and buried him alive. The couple returned home and Mhodi warned his wife against being impregnated by any other man in future.
Tsikai fled to Chinhoyi with her two daughters and made a report at Murekerera Police Station. The matter was referred to Fort Rixon Police who led the investigation.