24-year-old herdsman jailed 30 years for murdering employer in row over food breaks

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By Staff Reporter

A 24-YEAR-OLD herdsman will come out of jail aged 54 after he was slapped with a 30-year jail term for killing his employer following a dispute over food breaks, a few hours after he was hired.

Benjamin Gonzo was convicted recently by High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi who found him guilty of killing an 80-year-old Cassian Chiweshe of Chiweshe Village under Chief Svosve in Wedza on November 12 2019.

He was 21 when he committed the offence.

Gonzo had argued that he acted in self-defence, admitting striking Chiweshe with an iron rod once in the back.

He also denied killing him saying he had left him seated in his veranda.

However, postmortem revealed that Chiweshe was gruesomely attacked with multiple injuries discovered on his body.

Chiweshe had lacerations on his head, including haematoma  and contusions and fractures.

“It can be safely concluded from the nature  of the injuries noted and the cause of death that the deceased  was subjected to severe indiscriminate assault where  force severe enough to cause a skull fracture, blunt force  trauma and subdural haematoma was used,” the court concluded.

During trial, four witnesses nailed Gonzo although they did not see him committing the offence.

Evidence pointed to him as the suspect.

Chiweshe’s wife and sister in-law testified that they had left Gonzo in the company of the deceased and they were the only two people at home.

Several goods were also found missing in the house only to be found in Gonzo’s possession.

Gonzo told court that Chiweshe had given him stolen goods as payment for a few chores he had done earlier the day he was found dead.

It however, did not make sense why he had left the homestead hours after he was employed.

Gonzo told court there was indeed an altercation with the late, who had barred him from eating until he finished the chores he had been given.

In sentencing him, Chitapi said Gonzo deserved a stiff penalty because he did not show any remorse during trial.

He said it was lame for Gonzo to run away, while insisting that he acted in self-defence.

Gonzo was arrested in rural Rusape five days after he committed the offence.

The judge also ruled that it was frustrating that Gonzo tried to deny allegations when there was glaring evidence against him.

He also considered that the family was failing to come to terms with the sudden death of Chiweshe who was their only fatherly figure remaining.

Court heard Chiweshe’s brother became stressed after the deceased’s demise, resulting in his health deteriorating before he also passed on.

“The totality of the evidence shows that the deceased suffered grievous injuries from which he died,” said the judge.

“The accused did not suffer any injury  or alleged thus  thus clearly discounting suggestions of any attack upon him.

“The accused did not take time to steal  property from the homestead and make his good escape until arrested five days later.”

He added; “He used a dangerous weapon directed  on the head of the  deceased in an act which had the makings of being calculated  and deliberate .

“The accused in the court’s view acted with intent to kill the deceased  and made sure the deceased was unable to stop him from proceeding to steal property from his homestead. No other reasonable inference can be reached on  the proved facts.”