Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A MAN in Bulawayo who was part of a group of imbibers who fatally assaulted a patron at a shebeen for refusing to pay for the beer that he had consumed, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi convicted Duke Ndlovu (39) of Makokoba suburb of murder and sentenced him to an effective 15 years in jail.
Ndlovu fatally stabbed Raymond Kasawaya who was aged 32 in June 2007.
Ndlovu’s three accomplices, Lionel Barke (31), Lwazilwenkosi Ndlovu (28) and Rochie Kolta (38) all from Thorngrove were however, convicted of assault and fined $400 each or six months in jail in default of payment.
The three were also sentenced to six months which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that they do not within that period commit a similar offence.
The four men confronted Kasawaya for refusing to pay for the beer he had consumed and a misunderstanding degenerated into a fight.
Duke stabbed the deceased in the abdomen while the other three men only assaulted him with fists. In acquitting Barke, Lwazilwenkosi and Kolta of murder, the judge said it was unknown to them that Duke was armed with a knife, which he used in the melee to stab the deceased resulting in his death.
In passing the sentence, Justice Mathonsi condemned the quartet’s conduct and said the courts frowned upon acts of violence.
“This is a violent and senseless killing of a person who posed no threat whatsoever to the accused. We have here a situation where the accused consumed alcohol to excess and were then used by a dubious shebeen operator to prey on a defenceless patron,” said the judge.
Justice Mathonsi said Duke exhibited coldness of unbelievable proportions when he went partying with his friends late into the night after inflicting a mortal wound on the deceased.
“This court has a duty to impose sentences that underscore the importance of human life and to send a clear message to society that the use of violence in order to resolve disputes will not be tolerated. Accordingly, the accused is hereby sentenced to 15 years imprisonment,” ruled the judge.
Prosecuting, Mr Thompson Hove said on the evening of June 1 in 2007, the quartet was drinking beer together with the deceased at a shebeen in Thorngrove suburb.
The court heard that the owner of the shebeen Ms Catherine Souza approached Duke, Barke and Lwazilwenkosi while they were sitting in the verandah.
She complained that Kasawaya was refusing to pay for beer that he had consumed.
The three men confronted the deceased who was in the kitchen.
Several other patrons also followed them to the kitchen to witness the scuffle. The dispute turned into a fight and Barke, Lwazilwenkosi and Kolta assaulted Kasawaya using fists and open hands. Duke pulled out a knife and stabbed Kasawaya once in the abdomen and his accomplices dissociated themselves from the fight. Kasawaya’s girlfriend with the assistance of Kolta and two other patrons took the deceased to her place where he later succumbed to the injuries. A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of the four men.