Ex-top cop gets life for fa­tal shoot­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Court Re­porter

AN ex-top po­lice de­tec­tive who fa­tally shot a mine worker in a fight over the own­er­ship of a gold mine in Fort Rixon was yes­ter­day sen­tenced to life in jail.

Re­fias Ma­suna (50) of Ma­hat­shula North, Bu­l­awayo, who was em­ployed as an op­er­a­tions man­ager by Man­i­fest Se­cu­rity Com­pany was con­victed of mur­der with ac­tual in­tent by Bu­l­awayo High Court judge Jus­tice Fran­cis Bere.

Ma­suna killed Ernest Mu­denda (31) at Zulu 8 Mine Pi­o­neer in Fort Rixon on De­cem­ber 12, 2014.

In pass­ing the sen­tence, Jus­tice Bere said un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, Ma­suna could have been sen­tenced to death.

The judge said the con­vict was a for­mer high rank­ing of­fi­cial who had han­dled firearms for 18 years and his con­duct was un­called for. He de­scribed the mur­der as bru­tal. “In ag­gra­va­tion, we are con­cerned that an in­no­cent life was need­lessly lost in cir­cum­stances which show to­tal dis­re­gard of a court or­der, and that dis­re­gard of the law calls for a stiffer penalty,” said the judge.

“Peo­ple who de­cide to kill merely be­cause they dis­agree with a court or­der as in this case are clearly a dan­ger to so­ci­ety and they should not ex­pect mercy from our courts.”

Jus­tice Bere said Ma­suna, by virtue of be­ing an ex-cop, had vast ex­pe­ri­ence in han­dling a firearm, but acted oth­er­wise.

“To com­pound mat­ters, the ac­cused is not an or­di­nary cit­i­zen, but was a highly ranked po­lice of­fi­cer. He was an expert in the use of a firearm hav­ing been us­ing it for the past 18 years and he should have not used such a dan­ger­ous weapon on an in­no­cent per­son who was not even the owner of the dis­puted mine, but an or­di­nary worker who was try­ing to eke out a liv­ing.

“By any stan­dard this was a bru­tal mur­der which un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances should have at­tracted cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. We how­ever, do ac­cept that there were com­pelling fac­tors in mit­i­ga­tion. The ac­cused is there­fore spared the agony of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, but in­stead is sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment,” ruled the judge.

Ma­suna was part of the team that in­ves­ti­gated the late MDC leg­is­la­tor Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and five other party ac­tivists who were ac­cused of kid­nap­ping and bru­tally killing Bu­l­awayo war veter­ans’ leader Cde Cain Nkala in 2001.

He is a for­mer of­fi­cer-in-charge of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions De­part­ment in Beit­bridge, who was fired fol­low­ing his con­vic­tion on ex­tor­tion charges in 2007. He was jailed for 30 months for de­mand­ing a R10 000 bribe from a Con­golese na­tional he had ar­rested on fraud charges.

Ma­suna’s se­cu­rity com­pany was hired by Bless­ing Ndi­weni who had just re­ceived an evic­tion or­der to va­cate the mine. Ndi­weni was locked in a wran­gle with Wil­son Nyamhiwa over the own­er­ship of the mine.

Prose­cut­ing, Si­fiso Ndlovu-Sibanda said on De­cem­ber 9, 2014 the High Court granted an or­der in favour of Nyamhiwa and two days later the Deputy Sher­iff moved to the mine to evict Ndi­weni’s work­ers and re­mov­ing his min­ing equip­ment.

When Ndi­weni heard of the evic­tion or­der, he rushed to Man­i­fest Se­cu­rity Com­pany and re­quested five se­cu­rity guards to be de­ployed to Zulu Mine

“Ma­suna joined his sub­or­di­nates and they went to Zulu 8 Mine in Fort Rixon where his guards were de­ployed. On ar­rival at around mid­night, he dis­cov­ered that there was a dis­pute over the own­er­ship of the mine,” said Ndlovu-Sibanda.

His client’s work­ers had been evicted from the mine and the new miner’s em­ploy­ees had taken over the premises. How­ever, Ndi­weni’s prop­erty and equip­ment was still be­ing guarded by Ma­suna’s men.

“When the new ten­ants in­quired who was ap­proach­ing on hear­ing foot­steps, Ma­suna iden­ti­fied him­self as Ndi­weni and in­di­cated that he would shoot one of them,” said Ndlovu-Sibanda.

The new oc­cu­pants fled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, but Ma­suna fired a shot that hit Mu­denda in the up­per part of his chest and the bul­let ex­ited through the up­per left hand arm.

Mu­denda’s body was dis­cov­ered the next morn­ing at around 6AM. — @mash­nets

Re­fias Ma­suna

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