Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A GAME ranger employed at State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi’s farm in Beitbridge who fatally shot a suspected poacher, has been acquitted of murder.
Onias Mahewu (56) of Tongwe Village in Beitbridge and employed at Umzingwane Farm in the border town was discharged at the close of the State case by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Nokuthula Moyo.
The judge concluded that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case and acquitted him of the murder charge.
Mahewu fatally shot Jameson Chimudoro after he had strayed into Minister Mohadi’s farm in 2013.
Justice Moyo ruled that Chimudoro was an aggressor and poacher who was trespassing at the time he met his death.
“The deceased was not only carrying a lethal weapon and not only did he trespass but he was also the aggressor. He reacted violently to Mahewu’s colleague when he instructed him to stand still,” said the judge.
She said the State failed to bring up evidence to counter the defence.
“In the circumstances, the concession by the State counsel was proper in our view. The accused person’s conduct was necessary to avert an unlawful attack on his colleague who was not armed and therefore his conduct is justified given that the deceased was carrying a spear, which is an equally lethal weapon,” said the judge.
“The court has factored in the aspect that the accused person and his colleague Wonder Hlabathi were on duty doing their anti-poaching activities and the deceased was most probably a poacher and a trespasser at the farm.
“In the circumstances, the court is of the view that the application for discharge at the close of State case succeeds. The accused person is found not guilty and accordingly acquitted,” ruled Justice Moyo.
Prosecuting, Mrs Sifiso Sibanda said on November 20, 2013 at around 2.40AM, Mahewu and Hlabathi were on patrol when they heard dogs barking at one of the paddocks near the boundary fence of the farm.
She said the two game rangers became suspicious, went to the paddock and laid an ambush.
“After about 20 minutes, the accused person and Hlabathi spotted the deceased and his unidentified accomplice passing by,” said Mrs Sibanda.
Mahewu suspected that Chimudoro and his accomplice were poachers and he ordered them to stop.
The court heard that Mahewu opened fire and shot Chimudoro in the chest using a 12 bore mega shot gun and he fell down.
Chimudoro was taken to Beitbridge District Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A report was made to the police leading to Mahewu’s arrest.
Post mortem results show that the cause of death was brain damage, skull fracture and multiple gunshot wounds.
In his testimony, Hlabathi said Chimudoro confronted him and he was armed with a spear, which he allegedly wanted to use to strike him immediately after he had spotted him.
Hlabathi said they later discovered Chimudoro lying motionlessly with his spear by his side while they were heading back to their base.
Mahewu through his lawyer, Mr Simba Mawere, in his defence argued that his client’s response was necessary to avert an attack on his colleague.
“The accused person’s reaction was justified in the circumstances under which he was operating. His response was necessary to avert a possible attack on his person and his colleague. It is not in dispute that there was a calculated attack on the accused’s colleague,” said Mr Mawere.