HARARE – Jazz songstress Dudu Manhenga yesterday wept at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts after pleading guilty to culpable homicide charges.
Manhenga also pleaded guilty to charges of driving using a learner’s licence without supervision.
Charges against the songstress, who is a trainee pastor, arose after she hit the now deceased, Graham Martin in Mabelreign, Harare in March 2010.
During mitigation, Manhenga’s lawyer told the court the accident was a result of contributory negligence of the jazz diva and Martin.
“She did not see the deceased approach until he was very close,” the lawyer said.
“He was not wearing a helmet and there was contributory negligence on the part of the deceased.
“The injuries he suffered were head injuries which could have been avoided had he worn a helmet.”
He further argued Manhenga proceeded to drive without supervision on the day in question because she had received news of the death of a close relative.
“At that time she was in possession of a valid learner’s licence and had always driven under supervision,” he added.
He submitted that a custodial sentence would be undesirable.
“It will be undesirable to incarcerate such a person. Further to that when the accident occurred she made arrangements for deceased to be ferried to hospital and rendered assistance to the family during the funeral,” he said.
However, prosecutor Barbra Ndoro argued that a fine would “trivialise the offence and make the public lose faith in the justice delivery system”.
“The fact that deceased was not wearing a helmet does not justify that accused drove without requisite supervision.
She therefore, turned right in front of oncoming traffic because she was not aware whether she was supposed to proceed or not,” she said.
Ndoro said Manhenga had not furnished the court with a current driver’s licence to prove that she has rehabilitated herself.
“She has not learnt her lesson and only a custodial sentence will meet the justice of the case,” Ndoro said.
Allegations are that Manhenga hit Martin who was riding a motorcycle, while attempting to turn right in front of oncoming vehicles.
Martin sustained serious injuries and died upon admission at West End hospital.
Magistrate Blessing Murwisi will deliver her ruling today.