Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A MAN from Kezi in Matobo district who axed his neighbour to death when he confronted him for chopping a tree near his homestead, was yesterday sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail.
Phillion Ndiweni (63) of Mashumba village fatally axed Mr Julius Ndlovu (64) following a dispute over a tree which the accused person was cutting for firewood.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo convicted Ndiweni of murder with actual intent. In passing the sentence, Justice Moyo condemned acts of violence, saying the courts have a duty to uphold the sanctity of life by imposing stiff sentences.
“These courts frown at loss of life through violence. Life is sacred and there is no justification for villagers to butcher each other at the slightest provocation over petty issues. A message should therefore be sent out loud and clear that those who don’t respect the sanctity of life shall not be treated with kid-gloves,” she said.
Justice Moyo, however, noted that the deceased was an aggressor. She also took into consideration Ndiweni’s advanced age.
“The accused person has some weighty mitigation features in his personal circumstances. He is also in the afternoon of life and the court also notes that the deceased was the aggressor on the day in question. In the circumstances, the accused person is accordingly sentenced to 10 years in jail,” ruled the judge.
Prosecuting, Ms Nokuthaba Ngwenya said on February 12, 2017 at around 12PM, Ndiweni’s neighbour, Ms Monica Ndebele, hired the accused person to fetch firewood for her.
“On that particular day at about 2.30PM, Ndiweni went to an area near Mr Ndlovu’s field and started cutting down a tree. The deceased spotted the accused person who was on top of the tree cutting branches and he became incensed and confronted him,” she said.
The court heard that an altercation ensued between the two men during which Ndiweni struck the deceased with an axe on the left side of the ribs and head and he collapsed and died on the spot.
Soon after committing the offence, Ndiweni fled from the scene. Some villagers who heard the noise rushed to the scene and found the deceased lying in a pool of blood. They reported the matter to members of the neighbourhood watch committee who managed to apprehend Ndiweni leading to his arrest.
According to the postmortem report, the cause of death was brain damage, skull fracture, chop wound and assault.
In his defence through his lawyer Ms Taboka Nyathi of Makiya and Partners, Ndiweni said he acted out of provocation. — @mashnets