2 soldiers jailed 20 years each for 2018 murder of man left roadside to die

HARARE – Two soldiers were jailed for 20 years each on Monday over the 2018 murder of a man they accused of attacking another serviceman.

Jethro Rondodzani and Edson Chawira brutally assaulted Tafadzwa Saidi until he soiled himself, before leaving him roadside to die.

Justice Lucy Mungwari told the two soldiers, who were off duty when they killed Saidi, that their duty was to protect citizens, not harm them.

“As shown from evidence during trial, they were on a frolic of their own whilst off duty and coming from a beer drinking spree. As such they were not acting as public officials,” the judge said.

“The court will not lose sight that the accused persons are both trained soldiers. Their primary duty is to protect citizens of this country. To forgo that role and become the abusers and murderers of the public they are employed to protect is ironic. Their moral blameworthiness thus becomes very high.”

The duo’s trial heard that on October 14, 2018, they went drinking at Chigayo Inn bar in Chishawasha, about 25km east of Harare.

Leaving the bar in the early hours of the morning, the court heard that Rondodzani, Chawira and one Simbarashe Soko walked ahead while their colleague Simba Makumbe and Saidi followed behind.

Prosecutors said Makumbe alerted his colleagues that he was being assaulted and they rushed back to rescue him.

The two soldiers accused Saidi of assaulting Makumbe before launching into a violent attack and leaving him to die roadside.

Justice Mungwari said Saidi died a painful death.

“The autopsy indicated that his buttocks were swollen from the severe beatings sustained from the assault. He even soiled himself whilst lying in a near comatose state by the roadside. That suggests that he became helpless before he died.

“To compound issues, there was no reason why the accused assaulted Saidi in the manner that they did. Being soldiers, if indeed they believed that Saidi had assaulted one of their own the law required them to have arrested the deceased and handed him over to the police whom the court was informed during trial were just a stone’s throw away from the place where Saidi met his death,” the judge said.

Throughout the trial, Justice Mungwari said Rondodzani and Chawira showed no remorse for their actions.

“Their demeanor during the trial suggested a good measure of impunity on their part,” the judge said.

“A lengthy custodial sentence is called for in the instance,” she concluded before sending them away for 20 years each.

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