BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
TWO serving soldiers have been slapped with 20 year jail terms each by High Court judge, Justice Lucy Mungwari after they were convicted of murdering Tafadzwa Saidi following a beer drinking spree back in 2018.
Mungwari said the duo comprising Jethro Rondodzani and Edson Chawira were public officials with the duty to keep peace but acted contrary to their mandate.
She also said the fact that the two soldiers tried to deny the allegations when there was glaring evidence against them weighed against them.
“As shown from evidence during trial, they were on a frolic of their own whilst off duty and coming from a beer drinking spree. As such they were not acting as public officials. Without satisfying that requirement the provisions of section 47 (2) (c) cannot come into play. Be that as it may, the court will not lose sight that the accused persons are both trained soldiers. Their primary duty is to protect citizens of this country. To forge that role and become the abusers and murderers of the public they are employed to protect is ironic. Their moral blameworthiness thus becomes very high,” Mungwari ruled.
The judge said from the circumstances under which the offence was committed, there is little doubt if any that the deceased died a painful death at the hands of the accused soldiers.
“The autopsy indicated that his buttocks were swollen from the severe beatings sustained from the assault. He even soiled himself whilst lying in a near comatose state by the roadside. That suggests that he became helpless before he died. To compound issues, there was no reason why the accused assaulted the deceased in the manner that they did. Being soldiers, if indeed they believed that the deceased had assaulted one of their own, the law required them to have arrested the deceased and handed him over to the police whom the court was informed during trial that they were just a stone’s throw away from the place where the deceased met his death,” she said.
The judge said in offences such as murder, the court has very little room to consider the plight of the victim and the collateral suffering caused to the victim’s family.
Mungwari added: “A lengthy custodial sentence is called for in the instance.”
The court further heard that Rondodzani and Chawira were having beer at Chigayo Inn bar in Chishawasha on October 14 2018 when they drank until the following day.
The two walked with one Simbarashe Soko in one group, whilst Tafadzwa Saidi and their colleague Simba Makumbe followed behind.
It is alleged that the two were alerted that Makumbe was being assaulted and they rushed back to rescue him.
The two soldiers accused Saidi of assaulting Makumbe and started beating him, leaving him for dead.