HARARE – Two Karoi men have escaped the hangman’s noose after a High Court judge sentenced them to 25 years in prison.
They were charged with murdering a 36-year-old taxi driver before dumping his body in a lion-infested game park.
High Court judge Felistas Chatukuta spared Tafadzwa Watson Mapfoche, 21, and Thinkwell Zaranyika, 22, the ultimate sentence, following provisions of the new Constitution which abolished the death penalty for those under the age of 21 or above 70 years at the time of the commission of the crime.
They committed the crime in March 2011 in the Chirundu area where the victim, Alneshto Bayeta, was based.
The court heard that the duo told the police how they killed Bayeta by throwing him down the steep slopes of the Marongora Heights, in Mashonaland West province, after robbing him of his vehicle, a Nissan March.
On the day in question, the court heard that Bayeta was driving along the Chirundu road, when the duo hired his vehicle from Karoi to an unidentified destination.
When they got to the Marongora Heights in the Chirundu area, Mapfoche and Zaranyika forced Bayeta out of his vehicle, killed him and dumped his body in a lion-infested game park, where it was later devoured by wild animals.
Police officers and National Parks officials failed to locate Bayeta’s body, but officials only managed to retrieve torn pieces of his pair of shoes, a pair of trousers, a shirt, a belt and underwear.
According to court papers, the clothes were scattered in a manner consistent with a body devoured by wild animals.
Mapfoche and Zaranyika were arrested by police three weeks later and the vehicle was later recovered at a farm in Mhangura, but it had been stripped of some parts.