By Bulawayo Correspondent
A Gweru based Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) soldier, Carlos Tinashe Chapeyema (23) was on Monday sentenced to 25 years in prison for shooting his wife, her two siblings and injuring his 18 month –old daughter before shooting himself in a botched suicide attempt last year.
Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Martin Makonese convicted Chapeyema of three counts of murder and attempted murder.
Chapeyema however escaped the dreaded death sentence due to ill-health.
“This is a most horrific case of murder, which was committed in cold blood. The gruesome killings were committed in an aggravating manner and a minor child was also involved,” said Justice Makonese in his ruling.
The judge said had it not been for Chapeyema’s ill-health, he could have sentenced him to death since the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances.
“However , the court notes that due to the accused person’s peculiar medical condition after he shot himself, which resulted in loss of bowel control in addition to a special diet, the court was forced to be a bit lenient .His condition also presents huge problems for the prisons and correctional services,” rules Justice Makonese.
Representing the State, Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda told the court that on February 1, 2018, Chapeyema had been on guard duty at the ZBC transmitter in Guinea Fowl near Gweru. He then left with a loaded AK rifle and travelled to Bulawayo where he carried out the gruesome murders of his late wife Ashley Phiri (21) and her two siblings, Nkosivumile Ncube (17) and Rita Nkomo (24)
On arrival Chapeyama allegedly knocked on the door ordering the wife to open. When the door was eventually opened, Chapeyema stormed into the house and started firing with his rifle.
He opened fire and killed Phiri, Nkomo and Ncube instantly. A fourth victim of the shooting the soldier’s then 18 month old daughter was shot and seriously wounded.
Chapeyema then attempted suicide by shooting himself. He and his daughter were hospitalised with serious injuries at Mpilo Hospital Intensive Care Unit.
In his defence, Chapeyema who was represented by Shepherd Chamunorwa of Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners said at the time of the commission of the offence, he suffered from diminished responsibility arising from his upbringing coupled with intoxication.