Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A MAN from Inyathi who fatally stabbed his 17 year-old neighbour for spurning his love proposal on Christmas Day has been sentenced to an effective 40 years in jail.
Structor Khumalo (25) of Lupote village was convicted of murder with actual intent by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva in connection with the death of Ms Sicelo Moyo last year.
In passing the sentence, Justice Takuva said Khumalo committed a heinous crime by viciously murdering a young and defenceless girl.
“However, what is aggravatory is that the accused person brutally murdered a young and defenceless girl who had not wronged him in any way except that she exercised her freedom to choose who to love and who not to love,” he said.
Justice Takuva said the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life through passing deterrent sentences.
“The accused’s brutal conduct led to the needless loss of a precious life. It is the duty of this court to uphold the sanctity of life. It is clear from the provisions of the law that life imprisonment is a competent sentence in casu. However, having balanced the mitigating features against aggravating circumstances, we are of the view that 40 years imprisonment is the most appropriate sentence,” ruled the judge.
Prosecuting, Ms Namatai Ngwasha said on December 25 last year, Khumalo met Sicelo at Masuku Store in Inyathi Business Centre and she was in the company of her two cousins, Mercy Madedele and Progress Madedele. The three cousins were having drinks.
The court heard that Khumalo who was carrying an axe proposed love to the deceased and one of her cousins and they did not respond.
“Accused proposed love to the deceased and Mercy and they did not answer him. He again proposed love to the two girls and they told him not to come close to them as he was holding an axe,” said Ms Ngwasha.
The court heard that as the three girls left the business centre, Khumalo grabbed an umbrella from Mercy and tore it into pieces using a sharp object.
The three cousins took to their heels but Khumalo managed to catch up with Sicelo.When Mercy and Progress later realised that Sicelo was missing they became suspicious and asked two local men to accompany them back to the shops to look for their cousin.
“On arrival at the shops they found Sicelo lying dead on the ground in a pool of blood and she had a stab wound on her left breast,” said Ms Ngwasha.
A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of Khumalo the following day.In his defence through lawyer, Mr Njabulo Ndlovu of Ndove, Museta and Partners, Khumalo said he was wrongfully identified as the accused person on the basis that he had behaved violently on the day in question.
According to the postmortem results the cause of Sicelo’s death was due to cardiac block, cardiac damage and stabbing injury.