GWERU — Farai Machaya, son of Midlands Provincial Governor and Zanu PF provincial chairman Jason Machaya, was yesterday jailed for 18 years for the 2009 murder of an MDC-T activist in Gokwe.
The high-profile case came down at the High Court with four of the six accused persons being found guilty of murdering Moses Chokuda in 2009.
High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, sitting with assessors Jameson Dhlula and Wellington Matemba, convicted Machaya — a Zanu PF provincial youth executive — together with his co-accused Abel Maphosa, Edmore (29) and Bothwell Gana (both sons of a Zanu PF Gokwe District Coordinating Committee chairman) at the end of a week-long trial.
The court dismissed the defence outline that a group of 30 people picked from Mukombegumi had assaulted the deceased whom they suspected of stealing goods from the Machaya family shop on the afternoon of March 22, 2009.
The court, however, acquitted the other two accused, Obert Gavi (25) and Tirivashoma Mawadza (25) of murder, but found them guilty of assault and sentenced them to a wholly suspended 12-month prison term each. The two are members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
“You are members of the ZNA, but in this case you were used as soldiers for hire and we cannot allow government institutions to be abused like this. Therefore, a sentence that hangs over your head will do justice in this matter,” the judge said before passing sentence.
Justice Mathonsi sentenced each of the four murderers to 18 years’ imprisonment.
“You showed complete disregard of the law and instead of driving 3km to report the matter, you drove to pick up soldiers who are not even mandated to investigate such matters. You abducted people at will and attacked a group of people while masquerading as police officers. We cannot allow such lawlessness and vigilante behaviour in our society,” said Justice Mathonsi.
“Death of the deceased was foreseeable, you don’t attack a human being in that manner (indiscriminately with booted feet and logs while lying down) and not foresee that you might kill them,” said the judge in passing sentence.
Meanwhile, Tavengwa Chokuda, the father of the deceased, said in an interview after the judgment, he would not bury his son until the Machaya family appeased his spirit.
“The only way to silence the dead is to pay compensation. Until that is done, nothing will happen,” said Tavengwa.