A MAN from Fort Rixon in Insiza District, who chopped off his father’s head with an axe for allegedly stealing his mangoes, escaped the agony of a lengthy custodial sentence or death sentence after the High Court declared him insane.
Clemence Hove (38) of Maturi village, under Chief Jahana area struck Mr Hlupho Chibaro (73) with a log before chopping off his head with an axe in January last year.
He appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva, facing a murder charge.
Justice Takuva ruled that Hove could not be held legally responsible for his actions as he was mentally disturbed at the time of killing his father.
The judge returned a special verdict of not guilty to the charge because of insanity in terms of the Mental Health Act.
“The psychiatrists’ reports depict a disturbing background of the accused person. Although the reports say you are fit to stand trial, they highlight that the accused has a mental disorder and from the evidence before this court, we are satisfied that you committed the murder because of insanity.”
Justice Takuva said Hove was a danger to his family and society and ordered him to undergo further treatment at a mental health institution.
“The court therefore returns a special verdict of not guilty in terms of section 29 (2) of the Mental Health Act. Accordingly, it is ordered that the accused person returns to prison for transfer to a special institution for treatment. You are a danger to your family and society in general,” ruled the judge.
The prosecutor, Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu said on January 25 last year at about 6AM, Hove went to his father’s homestead and upon arrival found his sister-in-law, Ms Fortunate Hove who told him that Mr Chibaro had gone out in the bush to look for his missing cattle.
The court heard that Hove decided to wait for his father to return.
“When the deceased returned home six hours later, the accused person confronted him and started accusing him of stealing mangoes from his orchard,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The court heard that an altercation ensued between the two men resulting in Hove picking a wooden hoe handle which was lying on the ground.
He struck the deceased three times on the head and he fell down.
While the deceased was lying on the ground, Hove took an axe and chopped off his father’s head leading to his death.
According to the post mortem report the cause of death was decapitation, subarachnoid haemorrhage, assault and chop wounds.
The matter was reported to the police leading to Hove’s arrest.
In his defence through his lawyer Ms Abigail Masawi of Abigail Masawi Law Chambers, argued that he was mentally unstable at the time of committing the offence.
“The accused person was incapable of appreciating his own act and thus lacked the prerequisite mental element for a person to be held guilty of a crime due to insanity, which had somehow been exacerbated by a prolonged use of alcohol and cannabis from an early age,” she argued.