“You will hang by the neck until you are dead. May the Good Lord have mercy upon your soul,” pronounced Francistown High Court judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, to self-proclaimed traditional healer, Buang Makwati, on December 17, 2012.
Justice Phumaphi convicted and sentenced Makwati for the November 8, 2007 murder of Kediapare ┬áKelopang in the copper mining town of Selibe-Phikwe.
Makwati was initially charged alongside David Maphane who later turned state witness after the prosecution withdrew charges against him and called him as an accomplice witness.
┬áThe judge sentenced Makwati to death after the court found no extenuating circumstances in the case.
“I take into account the plea of your counsel on your behalf. You have been found guilty of murder and no extenuating circumstances having been found, the count’s hands are tied. The sentence is a prescription of the law, and however much the court may sympathize with you, it has no option but to apply the law as stipulated in section 203 (1) of the Penal Code. In the circumstances it has to impose the ultimate,” pronounced the judge.
Convicting Makwati on circumstantial evidence, Justice Phumaphi said the accused had chosen not to take the court into his confidence as to what transpired leading to the injury of the deceased and as such the court was bound to look at the whole evidence that might amount to extenuation.
The deceased was found dead by her colleagues with injuries on the back of her head. A steel pipe that was recovered from the back of the deceased’s house was found to have the deceased’s DNA suggesting that the pipe was used in inflicting the injuries to the back of her head.
He held that the only evidence that might have shed light on what transpired is that of Maphane who claimed to have visited the deceased’s home in the company of the accused twice on the day the deceased met her death.
The court, however, rejected Maphane’s evidence holding it as an “obvious lie” which could not be relied upon.
“There is, therefore, no other evidence that can guide this court as to what transpired at the time the deceased met her death,” said the presiding judge who concluded that there were no extenuating circumstances before sentencing Makwati to death.
According to the evidence before court, on the 7th of August in 2007, the accused with his accomplice went to the deceased’s place in Mphakenoko location in Selibe Phikwe where he administered some traditional medicine to the deceased who had required his services. After drinking the concoction, the deceased complained of dizziness and said she was not feeling well.
The accused is alleged to have then gone out of the house where he took a steel pipe and hit the deceased on the head. The accused then left the house with his accomplice and headed to Bobonong where he was arrested the following day by the police after a tip off from the public.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges saying that he only offered a traditional medicine concoction to the deceased as she had requested for her services as a traditional doctor.
The judge further said that one of the compelling evidence is the one given by the police detective who said that after the arrest of the accused in Bobonong, he was brought to Selibe Phikwe to be interviewed. He led police to the deceased home where he retrieved a metal pipe from behind the house which was later found to have the deceased’s DNA.
“The accused has not said anything about this part of the police detective’s evidence, presumably consistence with the position he maintained in cross-examining prosecution witnesses that he knew nothing about the death of the deceased. The big question is how the accused came to know about the whereabouts of the pipe that turned out to have the deceased’s DNA?” asked Justice Phumaphi.
Phumaphi concluded that having found and retrieved the metal pipe that was found to have the deceased’s DNA, it is admissible evidence. He also arrived at the conclusion that the only reasonable inference from the set of facts is that the metal pipe was used to inflict fatal injuries to the deceased.
“I come to the conclusion that the accused caused the death of the deceased with the metal pipe that he gave to the police. I therefore found him guilty of murder as charged,” the Judge said.
The accused was represented by Mishingo Jeremia of Mishingo Jeremia Attorneys and the state was represented by Careb Mbenda of the DPP.