Tragedy can be avoided – says judge; encourages mental health awareness as murder suspect is cleared

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By Staff Reporter

HIGH Court judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi has encouraged responsible authorities to prioritise mental health awareness as one of the effective tools to prevent fatal domestic violence.

He was handing down his judgement in a matter a Waterfalls woman, Leoba Muzondo was accused of murdering her husband in cold blood in an infidelity brawl.

Mutevedzi said there is need for the legislature to revise statutes which discriminate against people who suffer from mental health illness.

“Marriage in hell. That certainly could be a perfect title for the tragic end to a tumultuous marriage which appeared doomed from the day the accused (Muzondo) started showing signs of mental illness.

“On hindsight the tragedy could have been avoided. When lives are needlessly lost we all have a duty to remind the responsible public institutions of their duties.

“A stitch in time saves nine,” said the judge.

He added, “A little education on mental health issues to the general public and relatives of those who live with people suffering from such conditions may be all it takes to prevent calamities”.

It emerged that Muzondo has been suffering from bipolar since 2017 and Mutevedzi said evidence before him confirmed that she was going through a mental episode when she committed the offence in 2021.

“She could not have been responsible for her actions on December 18 2021 when the unfortunate incident occurred.

“It is against the above background that we are satisfied that the accused person successfully discharged on a balance of probabilities, the onus on her to show that she could not appreciate the  abuse and quality or the unlawfulness of her assault of the deceased on December 2021.

“As such the prosecution did not succeed in proving its case against the accused behind any reasonable doubt. Accordingly the accused is found not guilty because of insanity,” he ruled.

According to court papers, Muzondo and her late husband, Farai Tsatsa had a longstanding disagreement which arose after the latter broke her plastic dish and laundry basket.

Muzondo went on to hold Tsatsa’s shoes as lien for her broken items.

On the fateful day, Tsatsa arrived home to find Muzondo dishing food to a man he suspected to be her boyfriend.

A fight ensued and Muzondo teamed up with her friend to fight Tsatsa.

She then picked a hoe which she used to strike her husband killing him instantly.

During trial she argued that she was mentally unstable and did not understand what was going on when she killed Tsatsa.

She said she heard voices telling her to defend herself and her friend because Tsatsa was going to kill them.

Muzondo then produced as evidence, medical documents confirming that she has been receiving medical assistance at Harare Hospital Psychiatric Unit since 2017.