A Mutare couple together with a family friend was this week sentenced to death for murdering a man before stealing his vehicle.
A sombre atmosphere prevailed in the court as Justice Felistas Chatukuta delivered the capital punishment to Tongai Zireni Mutengerere (38), his wife Shylet Sibanda (24) and their friend Darlington Nyaungwe (27).
The trio will hang for the murder of Daniel Sithole in December last year.
Justice Chatukuta, sitting in Mutare, found no extenuating circumstances to save the trio from the hangman’s noose.
Their other alleged accomplices Ngoni Masvaure and Shee Njanji escaped the noose as they were acquitted at the close of the state case.
The state failed to prove that Masvaure, a police officer, and Njanji played a part in the brutal murder.
Prosecutor Michael Mugabe proved that on December 16 last year Mutengerere, Sithole and Nyaungwe hatched the idea to kill Sibanda for his Mitsubishi Canter vehicle which he hired out to earn a living.
According to the state case, Mutengerere is said to have used his wife to call Sibanda pretending that she wanted to hire his truck to go and pick up a motor vehicle engine at Kamutanho village in Zimunya, a few kilometers from Mutare.
The court heard that Sibanda fell for the trap, agreed to the contract and charged the woman $50 for the job.
The late Sibanda picked up Mutengerere’s wife at Green Market in Mutare and proceeded to pick up Mutengerere and Nyaungwe at Sakubva bus terminus.
Mutengerere and Nyaungwe occupied the front seat while Sibanda was at the back of the truck with her baby and they proceeded towards Zimunya.
As they arrived at Bazel Bridge Road, Nyaungwe suddenly grabbed Sibanda by the throat, choking him.
Sibanda managed to pull the vehicle off the road and stopped it.
A fight ensued between Sibanda and Nyaungwe.
Sibanda produced a knife from his pocket and stabbed Nyaungwe twice in the stomach, the court heard.
A wounded Nyaungwe jumped out of the vehicle but continued to attack Sibanda.
Upon realising his colleague was being overpowered, Mutengerere pulled out a knife and stabbed Sibanda several times all over with the help of Nyaungwe. Together they pulled him out of the vehicle and kicked him feet until he died.
They then tied his hands and legs together, dragged him into the bush and left his body in a pool of blood.
The trio took the vehicle and proceeded to Masvingo and then used the Sibanda’s vehicle as a pirate taxi.
Sibanda’s body was later discovered by one Mary Kamupunga who made a report to the police.
The police who attended the scene recovered a medical prescription that had the deceased’s phone number.
The police asked for a printout from Econet which resulted in the identification of the deceased’s relatives and Mutengerere as one of the last people whom Sibanda communicated with before his death.
Further enquiries with Econet are said to have linked the police with Mutengerere’s sister in South Africa who told them that her brother was in Kwekwe and that she had sent him money on a bus.
Acting on that information, police detectives proceeded to Kwekwe bus terminus where they ambushed Mutengerere who was arrested upon arrival to collect the money.
Mutengerere implicated his wife and colleagues leading to their arrest and arraignment in court.