A SOMBRE atmosphere prevailed in the courtroom yesterday as High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta pronounced a death sentence for two armed robbers who viciously attacked and murdered a security guard during a robbery at an electrical shop in Eastlea, Harare.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
The pair, Charles Rusike and Wilson Ajita Mavhuto, became the first convicts to be sentenced to death under the new Constitution.
Rusike and Mavhuto failed to offer extenuating circumstances and convince the court not to send them to the gallows, prompting Justice Chatukuta to pronounce the capital punishment.
“This is the most callous case I have come across during my carreer. The accused persons’ conduct clearly exhibits premeditation and determination to achieve their goal,” Justice Chatukuta said.
“I agree with the State that perpetrators of murder during armed robbery cannot escape a death sentence. The Executive will, however, have the final say on whether execution will be carried out. The sentence is that you will be in custody and that death sentence will be executed on both of you according to the law,” the judge said.
Before passing the death sentence, Justice Chatukuta described the actions of the convicts, who murdered a Fawcett Security guard, Victor Chaparadza, as “the most callous”.
“They came prepared with the intention to commit the offence and restrained the deceased in such a manner that he could not free himself if he wished to do so,” the judge said.
“It is clear from the way the mutton cloth was shoved in his mouth that he did not stand a chance to survive. A huge chunk was stuck in his mouth and an equally larger piece was hanging out of his mouth.”
Rusike and Mavhuto, who were represented by Thomas Sakutukwa and Tamuka Moyo, stood still in the dock as Justice Chatukuta’s registrar Rufaro Marira read the death sentence citation before the two were asked to offer any further extenuating circumstances on why they should not be hanged.
Rusike had this to say: “I am pleading with the court not to pass the death sentence because the now deceased died as a result of our ignorance. We did not intend to kill him. We were equally shocked when the police told us upon arrest that he had died.”
His co-accused, Mavhuto, said: “I was convicted of this offence maybe because I failed to articulate myself before the court. I plead for mercy. Although the court has ruled that I participated, I was merely implicated after I was asked to carry something I did not know, but my co-accused committed this offence.”
Prosecutor Editor Mavuto told the court that on March 24, 2007, Rusike and Mavhuto pounced on Chaparadza as he carried out his duties at Eastern Star Investment shop in Eastlea.
The robbers grabbed Chaparadza and tied both his hands and legs with electric cords and tyre threads before shoving a mutton cloth into his mouth and left him gasping for air as they proceeded to loot electrical gadgets from the shop.