By Tinashe Mungazi
A 34-YEAR-OLD Binga man, who was facing four counts of attempted murder after he allegedly went berserk and set ablaze his in-laws’ homestead 11 years ago, has been acquitted.
Nelson Munkuli, of Sikalenge village under Chief Sikangele in Binga, in 2008 allegedly flew into a fit of rage and torched his father in-law’s homestead, destroying property while they slept after his estranged wife deserted him.
However, regional magistrate Collet Ncube found Munkuli, who faced four counts of attempted murder and malicious damage to property charges, not guilty.
Ncube said the State had failed to prove a prima facie case, especially when it came to identification and material evidence positively linking Munkuli to the crimes.
“It is trite to know that a number of precautions had to be taken before such evidence can be accepted. What must be mentioned are peculiarities or similarities that are
distinct that a witness recognises as such belonging to accused,” Ncube ruled.
The State led its case through evidence of witnesses who claimed they had all identified Munkuli and had been led to his homestead after following a sandal spoor.
Throughout the trial, Munkuli continually maintained his innocence, arguing he was being framed after having fallen out with his in-laws following a misunderstanding with his wife.
“I deny the allegations and have no knowledge on what could have prompted the complainants to accuse me of trying to kill them by setting their huts on fire. On the day in question, I was fishing with some friends. Besides, no one set huts on fire and remains standing at the scene. It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Before the commencement of trial, Ncube demanded to know from the State what had caused the delay in the prosecution of the matter, to which he was told by counsel led by
Charlene Gorerino that witnesses were defaulting and had difficulties locating Munkuli.
Munkuli was first arrested in August 2008 and placed on remand for seven months at Binga Prison, before being transferred to Hwange, where he spent a year awaiting trial.
He was later released in 2012 after the State could not locate its witnesses, prompting the court to rule that the case should proceed by way of summons.