25 years jail for herdsman who killed teenager in fight over shovel
A HERDSMAN (22) from Nkayi was sentenced to 25 years in jail for fatally knifing a schoolboy (16), piercing his heart in a dispute over the ownership of a shovel.
Mthabisi Ndlovu of Gwamba Village had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of culpable homicide before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere on circuit in Hwange but was convicted of murder with actual intent for killing Kidron Madia.
His lawyer, Knowledge Dingani of Mlweli Ndlovu and Associates, was forced to ditch him because Ndlovu changed his original defence account when he took to the stand.
The lawyer, in light of the contradicting evidence Ndlovu presented, was forced to concede the trial was a waste of the court’s time.
Ndlovu, who moved to Tsholotsho to look after cattle, initially denied owning the knife that was used to kill Madia.
He said the murder was an accident that resulted as he tried to flee when Madia— a pupil at Mathula Secondary School in Tsholotsho — charged at him in a dark hut.
“Madia produced a knife. It was dark but I heard a click and realised it was a knife being opened. I grabbed him and took the knife away. I reached for the door that was not opening while holding the weapon with my left hand and I stabbed Madia by mistake,” said Ndlovu.
He later changed his statement and said he had been drunk carrying a knife in his pocket for protection from a death threat he had received from Madia.
“At the river, Madia said I would either kill him or he would kill me. Police officers beat me up so I did not mention the threats in my police statement. They forced me to summarise my account,” said Ndlovu.
During trial, Justice Bere told Ndlovu “You are a stubborn young man who is unrepentant. You are giving us a contrary impression. If you murdered the boy by mistake why are you trying to bring up culpable homicide?”
Prosecuting, Memory Munsaka told the court that on June 11, 2016 at about 9AM, Ndlovu and Madia had a fallout over the ownership of a shovel.
“The misunderstanding took place at Manzamnyama River. On the same day at around 8PM Madia went to his cousin Bright Ndlovu’s home where Mthabisi Ndlovu also appeared and pursued the shovel dispute before pulling out a knife from his trousers to stab Madia on the ribs,” said Mr Munsaka.
Ndlovu immediately fled the scene as Madia helplessly staggered out of the bedroom hut, fell on the ground and died, the court heard.
It also emerged in court that Ndlovu had taken the murder weapon and stored it in his home after committing the murder. Investigators recovered it on a sofa.
Madia’s cousin Bright (17) from Mkhono line in Tsholotsho, corroborated the State’s case.
In passing sentence Justice Bere said the choice of weapon showed intent, calculation and a premeditated, meticulous killing.
“Using such a weapon close to the chest shows the accused intended to kill the young boy.
“Your conduct and approach while confronting Madia reflects premeditation as you entered a room where you were not invited to deal effectively with the target. The police statement you gave also shows the same. The stabbing caused rupturing of the heart as the force used in relation to the size of the weapon shows that you had calculated your actions,” Justice Bere said.
He said despite the need to treat him with leniency as a first offender, there was a need to give youngsters like Ndlovu who are dangerous to society, lengthy sentences.
He said they would use the time in prison to mature and return to mainstream society as useful members of the community.