Covid-19 Saves Boy, 17, From Prison After Murdering Cousin 

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

A 17-year-old boy from Tsholotsho, who stabbed his cousin with a kitchen knife following an argument, was lucky to escape with a community service sentence for murder, after a judge noted that juvenile jails are not taking new inmates because of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

The boy from Mbamba area in Sipepa, Tsholotsho, cannot be named because of his age.

He was charged with murder following the death of his elder cousin who was 17 years when the death occurred in August last year.

Bulawayo judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva, who was on a circuit in Hwange last week found the juvenile killer guilty of murder with constructive intent.

He, however, sentenced him to 600 hours of community service at Jimila Clinic in Sipepa in the same area.

During mitigation, the boy’s lawyer, Linda Mthomeni of Dube, Nkala, and Company had pleaded for a lighter sentence.

However, he could not be sent to a juvenile prison because of Covid-19. Some of the juvenile rehabilitation centres are; Hwahwa near Gweru and Percy Ibbortson in Bulawayo.

Prosecuting, Memory Munsaka said the killer boy stabbed his cousin on 30 June last year leading to the latter’s death on 1 August after being admitted four times at three different hospitals.

On the day in question, the two cousins, together with another juvenile, went to a neighbour’s homestead to harness donkeys onto a cart with the intention of carrying bags of maize to Gwayi Railway Station that night.

However, they had a misunderstanding along the way leading to the stabbing.

“On 30 June at 10 pm, the accused and deceased were on their way to a neighbour’s homestead where they were to board a donkey drawn cart top Gwayi Railway Station. Along the way, they had a misunderstanding and the accused stabbed the deceased once on the left side of the stomach,” said the prosecutor.

The now deceased was rushed to Sipepa Clinic where he was attended to before being transferred to Tsholotsho District Hospital where he was treated and discharged after a few days.

His condition deteriorated and he was readmitted before being transferred to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.

At Mpilo, the boy was also treated and discharged but succumbed to the injuries on 1 August while at his aunt’s place in Old Magwegwe.

A postmortem report showed that the boy died because of stomach perforation, chest abdomen stabbing, and faecal peritonitis as the food he was eating leaked through the wound.