HARARE – The kombi driver behind the death of 17-year-old Harare Girls’ High school pupil Jocelyn Gomba has been sentenced to six years and eight months behind bars and will never drive a passenger vehicle in his lifetime.
The judgment was handed down yesterday.
Wadzanayi Mabika, 41, ploughed into a school girl a fortnight ago, before dragging her body under the vehicle.
He then fled the country and was only apprehended in South Africa.
The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to all the six charges against him.
According to the State, Mabika was negligent in his driving as he only stopped when the Nissan Caravan he was driving hit a lamp post.
He then disembarked and disappeared from the scene, leaving the deceased schoolgirl trapped underneath the vehicle.
However, in passing sentence Harare magistrate Elijah Makomo took into consideration the fact that Mabika pleaded guilty to the charges and did not waste the court’s time.
“The wilfulness in which he drove his vehicle is underpinned by that he ran over the deceased, dragged her body until he hit a post, a painful demise of a young life, very harrowing,” Makomo said.
“There can be no explanation for that level of recklessness.
“He admitted he saw that he had knocked the girl down but continued anyway, maybe if he had stopped at that stage, maybe death would have been averted,” Makomo said.
The magistrate said a prison term was the only “appropriate sentence” for the accused.
“ . . . Kombi drivers are taking a toll on human life, causing untold suffering to families. Stiffer penalties should be proffered, to turn around our roads that have become a jungle.
“For the reasons I have explained above, count one sentence (culpable homicide), you are hereby sentenced to five years imprisonment, one year is suspended provided you will not be involved in an accident where you are to blame,” Makomo said.
In mitigation the accused defence council led by Nathan Gororo pleaded that the accused fled from the scene of the crime not because he did not care but feared that the public would meet out instant mob justice on him.
“The severity of sentencing of judicial officials will not deter crime, this needs all stakeholders . . . even if this offender is given 50 years it will not mean this will decrease crime. It’s for all stakeholders to work together to minimise this crime,” Gororo said.
Gororo said the family members of the accused were aware of the expenses incurred by the family of the deceased and were prepared to reimburse.
“They know this is not enough but they are prepared to do this through me. We are not saying what he did deserves ultra-mercy from the court but they should be a balance between emotions of the society and the sanity of the court.”