By Mary Taruvinga
EX-Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) soldier, Jeremiah Saungweme (48) has been slapped with a 25-year jail term after he shot dead an artisanal miner for invading Shamva Gold Mine.
Saungweme was now employed by VS Security, a private company contracted by the gold mine.
He was convicted after a full contested trial presided over by High Court judge, Justice Munamato Mutevedzi.
Saungweme was a member of the ZNA from 1999-2009 when he retired.
He is a veteran of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo which saw Zimbabwe deploying troops to that country under the auspices of the Southern African bloc SADC.
In that war, he served as a troop medic ostensibly because when he joined the army he had basic medical training obtained from the Red Cross Society.
The proven facts of the matter were that on the day in question, he was called to react to an invasion which had just been reported.
He proceeded to the affected site with three other security guards.
They chased the deceased and other panners.
The deceased was unfortunately singled out by Saungweme who tracked him into a bushy area and shot him on the back of the head at point-blank range with a revolver.
The deceased collapsed and died instantly.
From the findings of the post-mortem examination, he had stood no chance of survival.
The offender was the only one amongst the security guards who carried a pistol because two of the other guards were armed with 303 rifles whilst the fourth one was completely unarmed.
In other submissions in mitigation after his circumstances, Saungweme defended himself arguing that he murdered with constructive intention as opposed to actual intention.
However, his argument did not find favour with the judge who ruled that as a trained soldier he would have acted better.
The judge said a person who shoots someone with a gun on the head at point-blank range cannot claim that he did not have actual intention to kill.
He concluded the murder was indeed committed in aggravating circumstances.
“From my understanding, Shamva Gold Mine is a conglomerate.
“There was no reason why he had to be as zealous as he exhibited in this case.
“The large corporation that the gold mine is surely had at its disposal other lawful means of protecting its assets than the indiscriminate killing of locals who wanted to eke a living from the mineral resources around them.
“The killing of the deceased was therefore inexcusable.
“The offender being a military-trained person must have exercised restraint,” said the judge.
The court heard the deceased and his colleague panners scattered in all directions at the sight of the offender and his colleagues.
In this regard, Mutevedzi said there was no need to pursue them because they were leaving the site of their own volition.
He ruled, “A sentence which would rehabilitate him, deter other would-be offenders and one that would show the courts’ displeasure at the commission of violent crimes would be more appropriate.
“It is for that reason that we considered that the offender be and is hereby sentenced to twenty-five (25) years imprisonment.”