A FORMER Mutare senior police officer has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for murdering a suspected illegal diamond miner at Chiadzwa.
High Court Judge Hlekani Mwayera also sentenced Joseph Chani, a former Chief Superintendent, to three years in jail for assault which will run concurrently with the 18 years.
Prosecutors said Chani, who retired from the police force during his trial, beat Tsorotsai Kusena, 37, with clubs leading to his death.
Junior police officers and soldiers who guard the fields gave evidence during the trial about how Chani had assaulted the small-scale miners.
Chani had pleaded not guilty to the charges, denying assaulting Tsorotsai and the surviving complainants, Pikirayi and Wonesai Kusena and relative John Gwite.
“All the 13 witnesses are liars and I am the one who is telling the truth,” he said adding Tsorotsai and his colleagues were assaulted by guards from private firm, Mbada Diamonds.
He said the witnesses from the police and army were either beneficiaries in illicit diamond dealings in Chiadzwa or had gone rogue.
Chani also took aim at one of the witnesses Edson Mandizvidza, a police assistant inspector.
“Mandizvidza is a drunkard and womaniser whom I had warned earlier over his drinking whilst on duty. He at one time disappeared from an operation only to be spotted with a prostitute called Marange,” said Chani.
Chani dismissed court exhibits of pictures showing the injuries sustained by his alleged victims saying they could have been tempered with.
“The injuries on the buttocks of the deceased could be of someone else other than Tsorotsai. I want to challenge those pictures now as they were taken behind my back,” said Chani.
Chani, in mitigation, had told the court that he had served 22 years in the police force, was a family man and that when the crime was committed he was on duty.
He also shocked the court gallery during the trial when he alleged that a doctor who conducted a postmortem on Tsorotsai had actually worked on the wrong body.
Chani said the doctor, Isdore Mwembe Kasongo, would have noticed injuries on Tsorotsai’s head following an alleged fall.