7 years toiling for justice

HARARE - For Graciano Kapfunde, no amount of time could heal the loss of his daughter at the hands of her husband even seven years after the incident, not until the perpetrator was brought to book.

He knocked every legal door, seeking justice, in his quest to have the culprit put behind bars.

“It was not an easy road, it was a mammoth task, an insurmountable exercise,” Kapfunde said.

His daughter Tatenda’s blissful life was taken away in the blink of an eye, after an altercation with her husband, Tawona Mhute, turned fatal.

Kapfunde was at pains narrating and reliving the whole incident, which happened four days after his daughter and her husband had just returned from the United Kingdom (UK) in 2008.

The two lovebirds had married in 2003 at a colourful wedding ceremony, not knowing that five years down the line, tragedy would strike.

They had lived in the UK, where they were both employed as nurses, working hard to provide for their families and at least have something for themselves.

Their toil was not in vain, as they managed to buy a house in Harare’s posh suburb of Newlands. It was a normal family, with hopes of going far in life. Narrating the pair’s relationship, Kapfunde could not hide the love that his daughter had for her husband, but as fate would have it, she died at the hands of that very man.

Mhute, a former rugby player, according to Kapfunde, murdered his wife following a heated altercation, which was preceded by a night out.

The two had just arrived from the UK on a Tuesday and on Friday they left their child at the Kapfunde family while they spent the night out.

Kapfunde’s wife called the following day, only to be told by Mhute that something bad had happened.

What followed was a toil for justice. However, for Kapfunde, the wheels of justice were turning unusually slowly.

His son-in-law was released on bail and the next thing he heard, he was back in the UK. For seven years, he went to work, got married and even had two children, while the murder case remained pending.

After realising that the case seemed to be suffering a natural death, Kapfunde wrote a letter to the chief justice last year demanding the matter’s finality.

“When I wrote the letter, I had made numerous attempts going to offices of prosecutors requesting for the matter to be set down for hearing but to no avail.

“I was doing all this to ensure that I get justice for my daughter but it was not easy,” he said.

His letter was hard-hitting and sought the immediate intervention of the chief justice to ensure the matter was brought to finality.

“Indeed, without an end in sight and with the family desperate for justice, it comes without surprise that we have now chosen to strongly suspect that a ‘human hand’ must be busy at work, sustaining this continued delay (a conspiracy theory) . . . The family has not been spared the agony of waiting for justice.

“It is in light of this unfortunate experience that my family resolved to humbly seek the attention and intervention of the . . . chief justice and the Commission with a sincere view to securing an urgent, fair and honest conclusion of the . . . case,” reads part of Kapfunde’s May 2015 letter.

The matter was eventually heard, leading to Mhute’s conviction on a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

He was sentenced to seven years behind bars, while two years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.

“There was an element of provocation when the deceased insinuated that the accused was useless following his failure to open the water tap.

“The combined effect of the two partial defence of drunkenness and provocation is to reduce the offence of murder with constructive intent to one of culpable homicide,” then High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu, who is now with the Supreme Court, said in his judgment.

He said because of his senseless behaviour, Mhute had lost a beloved wife and mother of his son, adding that he deserved a severe sentence as a deterrent to him and would-be offenders.

He also noted that the deceased had multiple injuries and was subjected to a brutal and merciless attack, as opposed to Mhute’s claims that she accidentally fell during the course of a drunken fracas.

Though, Kapfunde was happy that justice had finally taken place, he felt the sentence was a mockery to the justice delivery system.

“This is an incentive to murder women. I believe the girl-child must be protected against rape, murder, better than the pangolin is protected.

“It is an insult, considering that a court recently sentenced a man to nine years in prison for possessing a pangolin and when a judge’s daughter is murdered, that same judge is passing a sentence of five years, it’s ridiculous. We do not need aliens to correct this anomaly,” he said.

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