Chitungwiza businessman gets 5 years for murder

HARARE - High Court judge Joseph Musakwa has slapped a Chitungwiza businessman with a five-year jail term for shooting and killing a commuter omnibus conductor over 5 Rand change.

Lazarus Tichatonga Mabika, however, escaped a lengthy custodial sentence after Musakwa found him guilty on a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Mabika will spend the next three years in prison after Musakwa suspended two years on condition of good behaviour within five years of his release.

In passing sentence, Musakwa said, “Had it not been for witnesses who gave contradictory evidence, accused would have been convicted of murder with constructive intent.”

“The dispute that led to the shooting was trivial. It related to the change of 5 Rand of a passenger who had disembarked.

“The accused needlessly intervened much like a super power. A firearm is a dangerous weapon and accused violated the purposes of which the certificate was issued to him.”

Mabika shot the conductor, Clerk Karase, in the back at waist level, accusing him of refusing to give change to a passenger.

The court heard the incident took place along Seke Road flyover bus stop in March, 2010.

A misunderstanding arose between the two when an unidentified passenger asked for his 5 Rand change before disembarking, but Karase refused to give him.

The court heard Mabika got involved in the matter and accused Karase of ill-treating passengers.

A scuffle arose and the two wrestled, but were restrained by other commuters on board.

Mabika produced a Star pistol and shot Karase.

The bullet hit Karase at the back on the waist and ripped through his abdomen, killing him instantly.

Mabika was arrested by police officers on patrol who were assisted by members of public.

Mabika denied killing Karase intentionally. He said he pulled out the pistol to scare Karase and other marauding touts who wanted to assault him.

He further told the court that the pistol accidentally discharged, firing a shot that killed Karase.

Mabika was represented by Nobert Muhlolo, while Douglas Chesa appeared for the state. - Tendai Kamhungira

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