Arson case: High Court judge to use Rotten Row facilities

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HIGH Court judge Justice Ester Muremba is today expected to preside over a murder trial at the Harare Magistrates’ Court where the State intends to make use of the Victim Friendly Unit facilities commonly used for vulnerable witnesses.

SENIOR COURT REPORTER

The siting of the highest court at the lower court’s building was, according to prosecutor Beaven Murevanhema, sanctioned by Parliament and published in the Government Gazette last week.

The minor witnesses, who are expected to testify in the matter, are victims of arson through which four people died after a Harare man, Bernard Mazhandu Mucheka, allegedly set the victims’ house ablaze with petrol following a failed relationship with his lover.

Mucheka is accused of having killed his former girlfriend, Lorraine Mutetwa, who had rejected him after discovering that he was married.

Lorraine was killed alongside Colleta Gohodza (17, Rutendo Makarati (16) and Shamiso Gohodza (16) while four other occupants of the same house, Lovemore Makarati, Gamuchirai Gohodza, Ruvimbo Makarati and Mellissa Makarati escaped with serious injuries.

The incident, leading to the four’s loss of life, occurred on April 20 last year at a house in Stop Over, Epworth in Harare at around midnight.

According to the allegations presented by Murevanhema, Mucheka and Mutetwa were lovers since 2011, and they lived together in Stop-Over Nyikavanhu Epworth, but Mutetwa was employed as a domestic worker in Waterfalls. It is alleged sometime in February last year, Lorraine made her investigations and discovered that Mucheka was married following which she terminated the relationship.

The decision to end the love affair did not go down well with Mucheka who then allegedly decided to fix Mutetwa by setting her ablaze.

On the day in question, Mucheka allegedly went to Lorraine’s house armed with five litres of petrol and upon arrival, he broke the bedroom window-pane, sprinkled the petrol inside and set the house on fire leading to the death of four people and critically injuring the other four who later survived.

Mucheka, who is represented by Simbarashe Katsuwa, is facing four counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder. He denied all the charges.

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