The killer of seven-year-old Tapiwa Makore and his accomplice were yesterday condemned to death for the murder three years ago, done for monetary gain to obtain body parts for a ritual ceremony.
Tafadzwa Shamba was last month convicted of murder, while the boy’s uncle, Tapiwa Makore Senior, was found guilty of being an accomplice after he provided his house for the commissioning of the crime and was found to be involved to the hilt although with no proof that he actually stabbed the boy.
High Court Judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi, sitting with assessors Mr Chakuvinga and Ms Chitsiga, sentenced the duo to death saying the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances.
“Both accused shall be returned to custody and that the sentence of death be executed upon each of them according to law,” said Justice Mutevedzi.
Because the court passed the death penalty, the pair is entitled to an automatic appeal at the Supreme Court.
In assessing the sentence, Justice Mutevedzi took into account that the murder was committed in a wicked manner. The two showed neither morality and nor conscience.
“They approached their task to kill the boy with animated fixation of a predator,” he said.
“Anyone acquainted with how the events leading to the death of the deceased were reconstructed during this trial would be forgiven to make the conclusion that the two accused are men who were born in violence, raised in it and were hardened by it.”
In its judgment last week, the court held that the boy’s murder was an unconscionable act of mortal violence which betrayed that the objective of the killers was to perform a ritual ceremony with some parts of the victim’s body.
Equally, the evidence on how the crime was committed as described by Shamba’s confession illustrated many days if not weeks of careful planning.
The provisions of the criminal law specify the essential elements of aggravating circumstances in a murder case.
In this case, the court found that the abduction and detention of the boy for many hours clearly brought Shamba and Makore Snr within the confines of the relevant provisions of the criminal law.
The court went further to find other circumstances in which the way the murder is committed as aggravating.
In this case, the court’s view was that where an accused forces someone to take intoxicating substances for purposes of subduing him to allow the perpetrator to easily carry out the murder or to avoid detection, it must be regarded as an additional circumstance which aggravates the murder.
“In this case, the accused persons heavily drugged the deceased with home brewed illicit beer,” said Justice Mutevedzi.
“He became completely sedated. Both accused must have been aware of the brew’s toxicity and potency particularly on a seven-year-old. In reality they poisoned him into a comatose state of drunkenness.”
When the boy was dead, the two defiled his body. They cut it into pieces by neatly chopping off the head, both hands and both legs.
They hid most of the body parts, some of which were later recovered in different locations. However, the boy’s head has not been found to date and the court is convinced that it was part of the ritual to be fulfilled
Justice Mutevedzi said after taking the court’s findings into consideration, the court reached the difficult conclusion that the duo’s wickedness could not be exceeded by anything else.
“In the mush of their decayed brains they saw themselves becoming very rich businessmen through shedding the blood of an innocent child,” he said.
“The demon which drove Shamba and Makore to commit this murder is relentless and could not be stopped. It can only be neutralised by death. Our hands are therefore bound.”
The body of Tapiwa was found disfigured and cut into pieces, sparking far-reaching outrage throughout the nation. Shamba confessed to the murder and this statement was confirmed by a magistrate and accepted by the High Court. Other evidence, with Shamba showing police where the killing had taken place and where some body parts had been hidden, agreed with the confession.
He told the court that they killed the boy with the intention of selling his body parts to a witchdoctor for US$1 500.
Shamba was found guilty of murdering the boy while Makore Snr was convicted of being an accomplice to the murder although the court found insufficient evidence to convict him of the murder itself.
In the case of Shamba, he was convicted on the strength of the confession he made with this being supported by other evidence. He did not only confess to the murder, but made indications which led to the recovery of the boy’s lower limbs dumped in a latrine.
Shamba also led police to the house where the boy had been detained. The police recovered a container with illicit brew which Shamba had used to drug the boy and other paraphernalia used during and after the murder.
In convicting Makore Snr as an accomplice, the court relied on circumstantial evidence, after discounting his direct involvement in the murder for want of enough evidence but the judge made it clear he was embroiled in the murder in more than one way.
It is a requirement of the law that there be a causal link between the accomplice’s conduct and the death, said Justice Mutevedzi, finding that Makore provided his house to facilitate the commission of the crime hence contributed to the murder of the boy.