Francistown High Court Judge, Moses Chinhengo, on Wednesday sentenced Ikanyeng Moamerika, a young man from Maun, to ten years in prison for the murder of one Moses Muchembedzi.
Moamerika is said to have murdered Muchembedzi, a Zimbabwean national, in September 2003 by stabbing him with a knife.
According to the facts from the prosecution, the accused stabbed the deceased in a bar after a fight broke out following attempts by Moamerika and his friends to steal cell phones and CDs from the deceased.
Muchembedzi had earlier approached the owner of the bar and offered to rent him his music equipment. After the agreement Muchembedzi later delivered the equipment as promised. While he was still in the course of his duties, Moamerika and his friends tried to rob him, sparking a fight during which the accused produced a knife and stabbed the deceased on the chest. He later died on the way to hospital.
When defending himself in court, Moamerika pleaded not guilty and denied ever trying to rob the deceased, saying that he went to sleep at his girlfriend’s house after the drinking spree, and was surprised when the police raided the house and arrested him. But the prosecution rubbished his claims, saying that testimony from the witnesses pointed to him as the culprit.
State counsel Pascal Mhandu insisted that Moamerika had intentionally tried to rob the deceased, and later stabbed him with a knife after his attempts were resisted.
“Witnesses clearly identified the accused through the t-shirt that he was wearing at the time. They also told the court that they saw Moamerika stabbing the deceased,” he said.
Mhandu also said that the t-shirt that was won by the accused was found with blood stains, and a subsequent forensic report indicated that the blood matched that of the deceased.
However defense counsel, Ernest Mosate, argued that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the evidence led by the witnesses, such that the court cannot base its ruling on their testimonies. Mosate also said that the witnesses had failed to identify the accused as they told the court different colours of the said t-shirt.
In passing judgment, Justice Chinhengo said that murder is a serious crime that is punishable by death. He was, however, forced to pass a lighter sentence because of the extenuating circumstances in the case.
Chinhengo encouraged the youth to desist from carrying weapons, as it only leads to such horrific incidents.
“The offender is a young man who is also a first offender. It is the principle of our courts to give him a lower sentence than that given to repeat offenders, with the hope that he will be rehabilitated,” said Chinhengo.
He also took into consideration the fact that the accused has three children who need his support, especially as he does not have parents.