State prosecutors in Zimbabwe are calling for the death sentence to be imposed on the three MDC-T activists who were this week controversially convicted of killing Police Inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View, Harare, five years ago.
Tungamirai Madzokere (41), who was then councillor for Glen View Ward 32; Yvonne Musarurwa (29), the party’s youth deputy secretary; and Last Maengahama (40), a member of the party’s national executive, were found guilty of murder with actual intent.
Their alleged accomplice, Phineas Nhatarikwa, was convicted of a lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact to public violence and released on bail.
Mutedza was brutally stoned to death at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre in May 2011. Addressing the court in aggravation, prosecutor Mr Edmore Nyazamba said the law now allows imposition of the death penalty on convicts of murder in aggravating circumstances.
This follows the recent amendment of the criminal law statute that deals with a crime of murder. “In view of the amendment of the law, it is important for the court to determine whether the offence was committed in aggravating circumstances,” said Mr Nyazamba.
He said murdering a policeman on duty was on its own an aggravation.
“The deceased sustained several injuries from stone beating. They trampled on him and he suffered excruciating pain.”
Mr Nyazamba said the court should protect the interests of peace by removing the trio from society. “This can only be achieved if the court passes the death sentence according to the law,” said Mr Nyazamba.
The submission drew angry cat calls from the gallery that was packed with MDC-T top officials and supporters.
Lead defence counsel Ms Beatrice Mtetwa urged the court to consider the circumstances under which the trio was convicted. She blamed the death of Mutedza on the police brutality whenever they deal with opposition party members and members of the public.
“It is actually the police that created the commotion that took place and led to the death of their compatriot,” said Ms Mtetwa.
The lawyer urged the court to take the opportunity of this case to condemn police brutality.
“The highest possible sentence sought would not be justified but clearly fuel the perception of selective application of the law when dealing with certain political players,” she said.
After hearing submissions from both the defence and State counsel, Justice Bhunu Chinembiri — sitting with assessors Messrs Patrick Musengezi and Alexander Mhandu — said he would need sufficient time to consider sentence.
He postponed the sentencing to a later date.
Earlier on, the court was briefly turned into a mini rally when the convicts emerged in the dock. Led by Musarurwa, the quartet broke into sloganeering. The party supporters who had come to give their solidarity responded with cheers.
All the three MDC-T vice presidents Advocate Nelson Chamisa, Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe attended yesterday’s proceedings. Other notable figures were Renewal Democrats Zimbabwe leader Mr Elton Mangoma, Democratic People’s Party spokesperson Mr Jacob Mafume and legislator Mr Amos Chibaya among others