The decision by the High Court to sentence a political activist to death for the callous “unprovoked” murder of a political opponent should sound as a warning to other would-be perpetrators of violence, willing to be used, and dumped, as instruments of violence.
High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha sentenced Norman Sibanda to death for the murder of fellow villager Zenzo Maphosa in a politically-motivated assault way back in 2003 in Tohwe Village in Nkayi.
According to reports, Sibanda and Maphosa had no known differences except for the mere fact that the latter supported a political party that Sibanda did not like.
Sibanda met with Maphosa who was in the company of a friend and, from nowhere, he told Maphosa that he wanted to kill him because he supported a party other than the one he liked, Zanu PF.
Maphosa and his friend Never Khabo must have dismissed Sibanda’s threat casually and, according to information given in court, they ignored him and proceeded on their way.
Whatever incensed Sibanda that much is not clear, but he is said to have rushed to a nearby homestead where he grabbed a hoe handle and ran after Maphosa and his friend.
He bludgeoned Maphosa, with the handle in the head several times while his victim cried, pleading – in vain, for his life.
Maphosa died after 29 days’ battle for life at Mpilo Central Hospital’s intensive care unit.
The murderer, Sibanda, was arrested and appeared in court, on his own, and was denied bail.
He spent the last eight years in remand prison before his trial was finally concluded last week with a judgment rightly sending him to the gallows.
The party that he loved so much as to kill for in cold blood was not involved in the trial nor was the explanation that the late Maphosa was not a supporter of Zanu PF accepted as extenuating.
In fact, the learned judge said: “This was an unprovoked, politically-motivated attack. I have found no extenuating circumstances and I have no choice but to impose the ultimate penalty.”
This is what happens and should always happen when individuals take political matters personally.
Sibanda probably benefited nothing at all from his crazy support for Zanu PF.
Other than his local councillor whom he may know, Sibanda killed a neighbour, and probably relative, for the cause of an MP he probably does not even know, let alone shaken hands with and for a party whose leader he probably only hears about and has never met or seen in person!
What drives people to act like animals, as if they are not aware when things go wrong they will always stand alone?
This is no secret because Zanu PF’s second in command, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said it in very clear terms that anyone who commits a crime in the name of the party would have to stand on their own when the long arm of the law descends on them.
She also reminded political activists with the warped kind of thinking that spilling blood curries favour with the leaders of the party, that there is also that thing called an avenging spirit (ngozi) which does not know what a party is, but is sure to haunt the person and family of those that spill the blood.
The truth of this reality may have been exposed by the recent visit to the Njelele Shrine by hundreds of Zanu PF activists seeking to have their bloodied hands cleansed by blood-free ancestors lying in peace at the shrine.
Fortunately, no such thing happened and the men and women who killed must wait for either the long arm of the law to take them, like Sibanda, to the gallows, or for the avenging spirits of their victims to return and make them lunatics or worse before killing them, or for both.