Reprieve for Tsholotsho villagers

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The Bulawayo High Court last week released 10 Tsholotsho villagers on bail pending appeal after they were sentenced to a nine-year jail term for slaughtering a bull that had strayed into their area.

The bull had allegedly strayed into Makhaza village in Tsholotsho and remained unclaimed for three years.

The villagers are: Edward Moyo, (53), Elija Sibanda(24), Zwelithini Moyo(21) , Kholisani Nyoni (39), Tymon Moyo(38), Dingani Moyo (25), Bitwell Ncube (27), Meni Ncube (58), Jeffrey Moyo(29) and Mthonisi Moyo (51).

Charges against them were that on January 18 they connived and slaughtered a stray bull valued at $400 and shared the meat among themselves.

The 10 were convicted on stocktheft charges last month, but got a reprieve last Thursday after High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha granted them $20 bail each pending an appeal against the sentence.

In an application filed by their lawyer Lison Ncube, the villagers argued Tsholotsho provincial resident magistrate Toindepi Zhou had erred.

The villagers said the court placed too much emphasis on the offenders’ crime and underestimated their personal circumstances.

“The special circumstances that the court accepted were that the bull was a stray animal which for three years had become a danger to other animals and especially human life in the community as it had become violent and terrorised inhabitants,” Ncube said.

“The whole village convened a meeting with every household represented and it was decided that the beast be slaughtered.

“This was done in broad daylight taking away inference of any underhand or clandestine dealing and/or intentions.

“The meat was then shared and distributed amongst 28 families in the village. The beast was not slaughtered for commercial purposes.”