MASVINGO — An armed robber from Shurugwi who shot and killed a foreign currency dealer after stealing $4 000 from him and other traders will pay with his life, High Court judge Justice Tedious Karwi ruled last week.
Forward Chekenyu (33), from Chekenyu Village, Chief Nhema in Shurugwi, was handed the death sentence after the judge extended the High Court circuit to finalise the matter, which was first heard in 2009.
Chekenyu was facing murder, robbery and attempted murder charges when he appeared before Justice Karwi. He pleaded guilty and was convicted due to overwhelming evidence.
The verdict comes as the country is debating the death penalty in the envisaged new constitution.
Allegations against Chekenyu arose from April 2009 in Chiredzi’s Tshovani suburb where he fatally shot Tichaona Tangira (29) with a pistol at close range on his head and body several times.
Chekenyu, together with his accomplices still at large, tricked one Lucky Mpungu and Aaron Masango that he wanted to exchange R39 000 for $4 000. They drove to the residence of Josephine Chavani, a forex dealer, in the same suburb.
Upon arrival at Chavani’s house, Chekenyu was given the $4 000 and instead of surrendering the equivalent in South African rands, produced a pistol and pointed it at the forex traders, before ordering them to lie down.
The court heard that one of the forex traders grabbed the pistol and it fell on the ground, prompting a fierce tussle for possession of the firearm.
Chekenyu, however, regained control and as the victims were running away in panic, Chivani shouted for help to the now deceased who was on the veranda, and when he tried to intervene, the robber shot him in the head and chest.
The following day, Chekenyu and his accomplices were involved in a shootout with a detective, Victor Chinoni, along the Zaka-Ngundu Road.One of the forex dealers, Masango, had identified them and teamed up with the detective before proceeding to Zaka turn-off where they offered the robbers a lift to Zaka.
However, Chekenyu and his accomplices recognised Masango and bolted out of the vehicle, before pulling out pistols from their waists and fired randomly. The detective tried to grab the pistol from Chekenyu, but was shot in his palm.
Other cops who were part of the trap intervened and managed to arrest Chekenyu after a shootout.
Chinoni’s finger was amputated as a result of the shootout.
Justice Karwi, however, advised Chekenyu to appeal against both sentence and conviction at the Supreme Court.