Thandeka Moyo, Court Reporter
A SERIAL armed robber, who was supposed to be released from prison in 2035, has been sentenced to death for carjacking a motorist, assaulting him and running him over with the vehicle.
Taurai Gwade (31) with his accomplice Boniface Musharavati used an iron bar to strike the late Onward Chiripamberi and ran over him with his vehicle.
Sitting at the Bulawayo High Court, Judge Justice Maxwell Takuva last week sentenced Gwade to death.
He convicted him of murder with actual intent and condemned his behaviour of running over the deceased after clobbering and robbing him.
Gwade is one of the two serial robbers who terrorised motorists along the Harare-Beitbridge road in 2014.
The two are serving for a series of robberies and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services confirmed that for his other crimes, Gwade was supposed to be released on July 9 in 2035.
The State led by Mr Whisper Mabaudhi said on December 19 in 2014, Gwade pounced on the late Chiripamberi, who was in the company of his girlfriend, in Beitbridge.
Gwade was arrested in Mvuma while Musharavati was arrested in Masvingo for crimes they committed between May 9 and December, 19, 2014.
“The deceased was driving a silver Toyota vehicle to Dulibadzimu suburb at around 8PM. He used a dirt road and when he reached St Joseph’s Primary School grounds, he pulled the vehicle off the road and sat in the car with the woman chatting,” said Mr Mabaudhi.
After about 10 minutes, the woman looked back and noticed a male adult approaching from behind the car and informed Chiripamberi. At that moment, Gwade smashed the driver’s window with an iron bar.
The court heard that the woman escaped while screaming for help.
“Chiripamberi went out of the car and started fighting with Gwade who hit him with an iron bar once on the head. Gwade and his accomplice took over his vehicle. They pursued the deceased who was running away and Gwade hit him with the vehicle and ran over the prone body before disappearing,” he said.
Mr Mabaudhi added that Gwade and Musharavati also stole the deceased’s phone and laptop.
“The deceased was taken to Beitbridge Hospital where he was later transferred to United Bulawayo Hospitals for further management,” said Mr Mabaudhi.
“The two men took away the vehicle, a laptop and a cell phone all valued at $5 380. They sped off leaving the now deceased lying on the ground.
“The woman managed to flee. She was treated and discharged at a local hospital while Chiripamberi died on his way to Bulawayo to access medical attention.”
Police sources said the two men stole items worth more than $60 000 in their crime spree, targeting motorists along the Harare-Beitbridge Highway.
About 81 prisoners are on death row in Zimbabwe and for more than 12 years no one has been executed.
Of those death row inmates, 16 who have spent between four and 18 years awaiting their fate challenged their pending execution on the basis that the current legal framework does not allow anyone to be hanged.
They however have lost their bid to nullify the death sentences imposed on them after the Constitutional Court threw out their application in March this year.
In October last year, the country pardoned 10 inmates who were on the death row after they requested for Presidential clemency.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in charge of the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, has said while the country accepted the recommendation to abolish the death penalty in 2012, the majority of Zimbabweans who participated during the Constitution-making process said they wanted it retained.
He said Government was undertaking nationwide public awareness campaigns to conscientise Zimbabweans on the effects of the death penalty.
The Vice President said the new constitution only imposed the death penalty on males aged between 21 and 70 years who are convicted of aggravated murder compared to the previous one that had a wider range of offences under which one could be sentenced to death regardless of gender.