A BULAWAYO man who fatally stabbed his friend in the chest for allegedly gulping down alcohol while others were taking sips, has been sentenced to an effective 20 years in jail.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva convicted Lwazi Great Mtetwa (22) of Nkulumane suburb of murder with actual intent.
Mtetwa had offered a limited plea of guilty to a lesser charge of culpable homicide.
He committed the cold-blooded murder in August last year following a dispute with Thabo Michael Thebe who was aged 23. The two were part of a group that was sharing a bottle of whisky.
Justice Takuva, in his judgment, said Mtetwa was not a credible witness, adding that his testimony was fraught with inconsistencies and lies. The judge also urged witnesses to be honest in their testimonies irrespective of their relations with the accused persons.
Justice Takuva expressed concern over an increase in the number of youths engaging in violent crimes.
|Man (22) fatally stabs friend over whisky|
Justice Takuva said the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life through passing deterrent sentences to offenders.
"The courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life and if we don't do that the law of the jungle will take over. The use of knives to resolve disputes is totally unacceptable and we want to discourage youths from moving around carrying such lethal weapons through passing deterrent sentences. You are accordingly sentenced to undergo 20 years in jail," ruled the judge.
In mitigation through his lawyer, Liberty Mcijo of Mcijo and Dube Legal Practitioners, Mtetwa pleaded for leniency, saying he was a youthful offender whose behaviour was largely influenced by alcohol.
"Accused showed remorse and the mere fact that he killed his best friend will, in itself, traumatise him for a very long time," said Mcijo. Mtetwa claimed that it was not his intention to kill Thebe but negligently caused his friend's death when he threw himself at him.
Prosecuting, Mr Thompson Hove said on August 31 last year shortly after 9pm, Mtetwa and Thebe were drinking whisky with friends at a friend's house in Nkulumane when an altercation ensued between the two. The court heard that the dispute degenerated into a fight and Mtetwa was defeated.
"Mtetwa left the scene and vowed that he would return and teach the deceased a lesson. He went to his home and returned a few minutes later armed with an Okapi knife," said Mr Hove.
On his return, Mtetwa confronted the now-deceased and the fight resumed.
During the scuffle, the court heard that Mtetwa pulled out his knife and stabbed Thebe once in the ribcage and also in the neck and he died instantly.
According to post mortem results, the cause of death was stabbing, heart and lung rupture and hypovolemic shock.