Panner escapes death penalty

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MUTARE — A Chimanimani man, who strangled his colleague to death following a brawl during a gold panning excursion along the Muchira River in 2009, escaped the hangman’s noose yesterday after the High Court ruled he had shown a lot of contrition during trial.

Takanyiswa Ruwo was convicted of murder with constructive intent by Justice Charles Hungwe and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The court heard on April 24 2009, Ruwo went to pan for gold with the now-deceased George Ndlovu along the river banks.

The pair had a long-standing dispute over R200 which Ndlovu owed Ruwo. At the site, the two dug a one-metre-deep pit before Ruwo asked for his money.

An argument broke out and later degenerated into a fight.

In a fit of rage, Ruwo struck Ndlovu’s head with a hoe handle and he fell into the pit.

He then strangled him and buried his body in the pit.

On May 17 2009, a fellow villager, Ruth Waine, saw the deceased’s body along the river bank as she was fetching firewood.

She rushed home and advised her husband who later informed the village headman Edward Hlabiso.

The headman in turn reported the matter to the police, leading to the exhumation of the body on May 26.

The body was not taken for a post-mortem because of its decomposed state.

Ruwo admitted the murder charge, but told the court he killed Ndlovu in a fit of rage after failing to recover the R200.

Justice Hungwe said what Ruwo did was unacceptable although there were extenuating circumstances in the matter.

He noted the accused had co-operated with the courts and given a credible narration of events.

Jane-rose Matsikidze prosecuted.