Saturday 24 February 2024


A 62-YEAR-OLD Gweru woman will serve no time in prison after she fatally attacked her husband of 42 years with a burning log on the head several times during a misunderstanding over weeding of a maize field.

Clara Dube was, however, convicted of culpable homicide after Gweru High Court judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa slapped her with a wholly suspended three-year sentence on condition of good behaviour.

According to court papers, on January 26, 2022, Dube and the deceased were at home when they had a misunderstanding over the weeding of their maize field.

The court heard that the deceased assaulted her with clenched fists. Dube then picked a burning log and assaulted her husband several times all over the body.

The deceased succumbed from the injuries on February 3, the same year, and a post-mortem conducted revealed that he had died from traumatic shock and assault.

The log she used to inflict these injuries was measured and it was 0,796kg in weight and 79cm long.

In her judgment, Justice Kabasa said the law accepts that when one is under an unlawful attack, they are allowed to defend themselves.

“Equally where a person is acting in self-defence but the means used to avert the unlawful attack is not reasonable in all the circumstances, the defence of self does not avail them as a complete defence but reduces a charge of murder to culpable homicide,” ruled Justice Kabasa.

“In accepting the limited plea to culpable homicide, the State showed an appreciation of the facts of this matter and the law. It cannot be said in the circumstances that you intended to kill the deceased or realised the real risk or possibility that your conduct may cause his death but continued, nonetheless.

“You are therefore found guilty of culpable homicide.”

The judge said in assessing her appropriate sentence she pleaded guilty to the charge saying a plea of guilty should be rewarded as it contributes to the smooth administration of justice.

“You showed that you regret what you did, and you appear genuinely remorseful. You are a female first offender and female first offenders should be treated with some measure of leniency,” said Justice Kabasa.

“You are 62 years old and you do look that age. Your age is therefore a factor that the court must consider in coming up with a fair and just sentence.”

She added: “Your son told us that your marriage was not a happy one. It appears it was a 42-year-old marriage which was abusive to an extent that you would leave your matrimonial home for your maternal home.

“When this incident occurred, your son told us that you had recently returned home. He is sad that he lost a father but equally sad to see you facing charges and the likelihood of being imprisoned. It is sad that people stay together for so long in an abusive relationship.

“The deceased had assaulted you before you decided to use the log. He was repeating the pattern of abuse which characterised your 42-year-old marriage.

“Society is unforgiving and you will probably now be called “that one who killed her husband.” That is a heavy burden to carry. Emotionally you are likely to be haunted by this death. After the tragic incident, you rushed to seek help for the deceased and people tried to render assistance but to no avail.”

Justice Kabasa said the prison that comes with four corners of a cell is probably better than the psychological prison she will endure for the rest of her life.

Gender-based violence is a scourge that has to be eradicated. A home should be a place of peace, joy and love. Yours unfortunately was not and you were also a victim of gender-based violence.

“You are not being punished for your evil intent but for being careless. The punishment is therefore meant to inculcate caution and so must be educative and corrective.

“Three years imprisonment, the whole of which is suspended for five years on condition you do not within that period commit an offence of which an assault or violence on the person of another is an element and for which upon conviction, you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine,” Kabasa ruled. Newsday


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