Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A Mberengwa woman (42) and two hitmen she hired to kill her live-in boyfriend before throwing the body into a dam were yesterday sentenced to a combined 95 years in prison.
Loice Mahlamvana — a tailor — paid her ex-boyfriend Chenjerai Zhou (39) and Tavonganei Shoko (31) US$50 each to kill her live-in boyfriend, Munakiishe Chinyoka (42).
The woman accused Chinyoka of abusing her and refusing to let her move on after she had dumped him. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison while Zhou and Shoko were sentenced to 35 years each in prison after they were convicted of murder with actual intent by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese sitting at the Gweru High Court Circuit yesterday.
Mahlamvana, Zhou and Shoko all of Nyikinya Village under Chief Maziofa in Mberengwa were all facing one count each of murder.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Mahlamvana told the court that she only wanted her co-accused to caution Chinyoka for being violent and abusive towards her.
Zhou and Shoko dissociated themselves from the murder, saying they were nowhere close to the murder scene.
However, Justice Makonese convicted the trio of murder with actual intent after a full trial. He said the State had managed to prove that the trio murdered Chinyoka in cold blood before setting the body on fire and dumping it in a dam in an attempt to destroy evidence.
“You have been convicted of the most callous murder. Acting in common purpose, Mahlamvana provided access for Zhou and Shoko to get to the deceased by not locking the door to her bedroom. Zhou and Shoko assaulted the deceased with a hoe handle until he was totally immobilised and you decided to burn his body to conceal the crime.
“Mahlamvana provided the wheelbarrow to ferry the deceased to the dam as well as the petrol that was used to burn his body. When the body could not totally burn you decided to dump it in the dam and you tied three huge stones: one on the neck, chest and legs so that it sinks in the dam,” said Justice Makonese.
He said Zhou and Shoko, in their signed warned and cautioned statements which were confirmed by a magistrate, had admitted to committing the heinous crime which was collaborated by a State witness, Ms Sihluepekile Chinyoka.
“Law on confession provides for a conviction on evidence based on confession. You confessed in your warned and cautioned statements. Sihluepekile Chinyoka gave evidence which implicated the accused, putting them right at the scene of the murder,” said Justice Makonese.
He said the trio’s moral blameworthiness was very high and deserved a lengthy prison stay to deter would be offenders.
“Mahlamvana is sentenced to 25 years while Zhou and Shoko are sentenced to 35 years in prison each,” said Justice Makonese.
For the State, Mr Mirirai Shumba told the court that Mahlamvana was Chinyoka’s girlfriend until sometime in November 2017 when their relationship turned sour. Chinyoka started accusing Mahlamvana of having multiple boyfriends and allegedly started assaulting her.
On November 29 of that year, Mahlamvana hired Zhou and Shoko to murder Chinyoka and paid them US$50 each. During the same night, Zhou and Shoko followed Chinyoka from a beer drink to Mahlamvana’s house.
Chinyoka entered Mahlamvana’s house and after a few minutes, Zhou and Shoko followed and found him sleeping on the floor. Shoko blindfolded him while Zhou grabbed his throat and started assaulting him all over his body with a wooden hoe handle, resulting in him becoming unconscious.
The two carried Chinyoka outside and together with Mahlamvana hatched a plan to dump the body in Mpandashango Dam. Mahlamvana provided a wheelbarrow and two litres of petrol, which was in a five-litre container.
During the late hours of the same night, Zhou and Shoko headed to the dam where they tried to burn the body but failed. Zhou and Shoko then tied a big stone on Chinyoka’s body and threw it into the dam. The body was seen floating on December 5 and was taken to Mpilo Hospital for postmortem.
Investigations led to the arrest of the trio.