Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A BEITBRIDGE woman who smashed her one-year-old niece’s head with a stone in a bushy area in Dulibadzimu suburb has been freed after the High Court ruled that she was mentally unstable when she committed the brutal killing.
Caroline Mhlanga, 29, of Beitbridge, will however, be restricted to a special institution to receive medical treatment after Justice Martin Makonese of the Bulawayo High Court passed a not guilty verdict.
The judge ruled that Mhlanga could not be held legally responsible for killing her niece as she was mentally ill at the time of committing the crime.
Justice Makonese returned a special verdict of not guilty to a murder charge because of insanity in terms of the Mental Health Act.
Medical reports compiled by psychiatrists showed that the woman had mental health problems when she killed Nicole Mutamba.
“From the evidence given in court, Mhlanga was examined by psychiatrists between September 15, 2014 and June 1, 2015 and the medical report showed that she was suffering from a mental disorder. She has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and therefore cannot be held legally responsible for her actions,” ruled Justice Makonese.
The judge said Mhlanga was a danger to society and ordered that she be taken to a mental health institution for further treatment.
“Mhlanga is a danger to society as such she should be taken back to Mlondolozi Prison for further transfer to a mental health institution to continue receiving treatment for her condition,” said Justice Makonese.
Prosecuting, Sifiso Sibanda said on July 23, 2014 shortly after 11.45PM, Mhlanga went to her brother-in-law’s house in Dulibadzimu suburb.
She failed to give a satisfactory answer when asked about the purpose of her visit, but was allowed to sleep.
The girl’s father, Jikicha Mutamba, was the younger brother to Mhlanga’s husband, Petros Mutamba.
The court heard that the following day, at around 9AM, Mhlanga took her niece and started playing with her outside the house.
Later that morning her husband arrived at the same house.
The two brothers went into the house leaving Mhlanga and the girl outside.
When the two men got outside the house they could not locate Mhlanga and the toddler.
They searched the entire neighbourhood to no avail.
Mhlanga had taken the baby to a bushy area near the new medium density suburb where she smashed her head and face with a stone before disappearing.
After committing the crime she went and hid in a bush near Makakavhule village. The toddler’s body was discovered hours later by a resident.
A report was made to the police who recovered the blood stained stone some two metres away from the murder scene.
A search for Mhlanga was then conducted leading to her arrest on the same day.