A BEITBRIDGE man, who waylaid a 65-year-old flea market trader in the driveway of her house in the border town before fatally stabbing the woman and robbing her of two cellphones, was yesterday sentenced to death by hanging.
Maxwell Chadiwa (25) of Dulivhadzimu suburb pounced on Ms Muchaziva Gonorashe while she was about to leave her house in Dulivhadzimu suburb for Musina, South Africa, in the early hours and stabbed her with an okapi knife.
He was arrested after police tracked the victim’s stolen mobile phone to another person who subsequently led detectives to the accused person.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva convicted Chadiwa of murder with actual intent.
In his judgment, Justice Takuva ruled that the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances.
“It is clear that the accused person acted with an actual intent. Looking at the depth of the wound it is evident that excessive force was used. We are satisfied that the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances,” said the judge.
Justice Takuva said the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life.
“Serious crimes call for the courts to be retributive in passing sentences as opposed to taking a rehabilitative approach. Lenience in such circumstances would not reflect the core principles of sentencing as the courts have a duty to uphold the sanctity of human life,” he said.
In passing a sentence, Justice Takuva said Chadiwa’s conduct was motivated by greed.
“What is aggravating is that you stabbed an innocent and helpless 65 year-old woman who intended to go to South Africa to buy wares for resale back home.
“If such an old woman can wake up in the early hours to work what would prevent you, a 24-year-old person, from doing that? Instead you chose to waylay the woman and rob her of her cellphones after refusing to disclose where she kept her money. It shows you are a cruel and wicked person who allowed greed to overpower you,” he said.
Justice Takuva said those who disregard other people’s lives deserve to be permanently removed from society.
“The court is in agreement with the State that death is the most appropriate sentence for you. We would have betrayed society if we are swayed into passing a sentence other than a death penalty. Those who don’t respect other people’s lives should also have their lives terminated and the sentence of this court is that you be returned to custody and that the sentence of death executed upon you according to the law,” ruled the judge.
On being asked why a death penalty should not be imposed on him, Chadiwa who appeared unfazed said: “There is nothing that I can say since I have already been convicted of a charge of murder, which I did not commit. However, I wish to tell this court that it is only God who knows that I am being sacrificed for the sins that I did not commit because my hands are not dripping with blood.”
Justice Takuva reminded Chadiwa of his automatic right of appeal against both conviction and sentence at the Supreme Court. Prosecuting, Mr Nqobizitha Ndlovu said on January 11 this year, the deceased woke up at around 3.30AM intending to travel to South Africa for shopping using her car, a Toyota Aphard.
She drove out of the yard, left the engine running and went back to close the gate.
“The deceased, who intended to go to Musina drove her car out of the yard and stopped at the driveway to close the gate behind her when the accused person, who was armed with a knife, pounced on her,” said Mr Ndlovu. Chadiwa pulled out an Okapi knife and stabbed Ms Gonorashe on the left collarbone and she collapsed and died. Chadiwa went to the car, searched it and took a handbag containing two cellphones, a Samsung Galaxy S4 and a Blackberry. He emptied the bag before he threw it away. The woman’s body was discovered by two other tenants who heard dogs barking in the yard.
They reported the matter to the police who recovered an empty handbag and a blood stained knife near the woman’s body. The body was later taken to Beitbridge District Hospital mortuary. Shortly after committing the murder, Chadiwa sold the woman’s cellphone to another resident.
The cellphone was tracked and it was recovered from a person who had bought it and he led detectives to Chadiwa’s place leading to his arrest.
Chadiwa, in his defence, through his lawyer, Mr Arnold Ncube of R Ndlovu and Company, said he bought the cellphones from a suspected border jumper who was desperately in need of money to pay people to assist him illegally cross the border to South Africa.