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Judge urges court interpreters to learn street lingo as key Gen Z witness testifies

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By Staff Reporter


High Court judge, Justice Munamato Mutevedzi has urged all court interpreters to learn street lingo in a bid to accommodate Gen Zs using slang during court proceedings.

The judge said this while delivering his judgment in a case where “jealous” brothers, Eric and Brian Kagoro were accused of killing their father.

The case was difficult as the key witness, their younger brother’s testimony was dominated by street lingo which made it difficult for the interpreter to translate for the court as she could hardly understand it.

The key witness is aged 17 and he chose to testify in Shona.

Despite repeated admonishments to stick to proper Shona, the boy found himself frequently drifting into the comfort of his colloquialism and using phrases such as ‘ngezha ikabva yajamuka’ which after a struggle, the interpreter advised simply referred to the boys’ father’s fury.

“It then occurred to us that the transformation that our indigenous languages are undergoing is unrestrained,” he noted.

“The youth are prepared to obliterate the languages to suit their tastes and times.

“At the rate they are doing it, Shona, Ndebele and other local languages face the risk of extinction.

“The courts will be faced more and more with witnesses who speak such mixed languages.

“As shown in this trial, the youngsters are non-conformists yet their evidence may be vital for the resolution of cases in court.

“The language barrier must be broken.

“Court interpreters must therefore find a way of bridging that gap instead of expecting today’s generation to bend backwards,” said Mutevedzi.

He added, “They take no prisoners.

“The only way out is for court interpreters to learn the jargon and integrate it into the formal languages before interpreting into the official court language,” he advised.

The boy referred to above was dearly loved by his father.

The father gave him all the attention which infuriated his elder brothers.

The court heard they hated their father for it so much that they ultimately decided to kill him.

The court heard they killed their father by tripping him to the ground and strangling him.

The incident took place on 19 June 2022 at around 1600 hrs when the accused persons and the deceased had a misunderstanding.

The two accused persons confronted their father accusing him of always favouring his youngest son, Kaphas.

Prosecutors proved that Eric tripped the deceased, and sat on him before strangling him.

He stood up and grabbed a wooden log with which he intended to finish off the deceased but was blocked by Godfrey Kachutu.

After a while, both Eric and Brian took wooden logs and charged towards the deceased who ran away.

Kaphas and Tsungrirai, another sibling, followed them.

Just outside the homestead, they found Eric strangling him.

Brian had his father’s head wedged between his legs to immobilise him.

Kaphas and Tsungirirai intervened and restrained the accused persons before taking the deceased into his kitchen hut.

The deceased collapsed the following day and was taken to Marondera Provincial Hospital. He died on 22 June 2022.

Eric and Brian denied the allegations but the court ruled that they committed the offence.

“Accordingly, we are satisfied that the prosecution managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that both the accused are guilty of murder.

“The court therefore directs that both accused be and are hereby found guilty of murder,” Mutevedzi ruled.