Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
An unlicensed Midlands State University student was jailed for an effective nine months for killing two people and seriously injuring two others in a road accident.
Innocent Panashe Maviza (20) was speeding during the wee hours in Harare on New Year’s Day and failed to control his vehicle which then encroached on to the lane of oncoming traffic resulting in a head-on collision.
Brothers, Irwin Tanatswa Mutandwa and Irvine Tinotenda Mutandwa died on the spot while their mother and sister were seriously injured. The deceased’s mother suffered multiple fractures and spent two months in hospital. Maviza was convicted on his own guilty plea. He pleaded guilty to two counts of culpable homicide and driving without a licence.
The magistrate, Ms Ruramai Chitumbura sentenced Maviza to 12 months in prison before setting aside three months on condition he does not commit a similar offence within the next five years.
She then effected nine months. Maviza was also fined $300 or three months in jail for driving without a licence. In passing sentence, the magistrate highlighted that a custodial sentence was more appropriate in the circumstances adding that community service or a fine would trivialise the offence.
“He committed a serious offence and his moral blameworthiness was high, although he is a first offender. The crime was aggravated by the fact that he drove without a licence and caused the death of two innocent souls. There was clear gross negligence hence a message needs to be sent out there that driving without a licence is a serious offence that can land a person in prison,” she said.
In mitigation, Maviza urged the court to take into account that he had no previous convictions and that he was a student. He pleaded for the court’s leniency and opted for community service arguing that a jail term would disturb his studies. In aggravation, prosecutor Ms Farirai Nyamutowa had no kind words for Maviza saying his submission of being a student did not hold water. She called for a custodial sentence.
“Your Worship, the convicted person is saying that a jail term would disturb his studies, what about the two brothers he killed? Were they not going to school as well, did he also not cut their lives short?
“Surely, he should have thought of all that before committing the offence. He drove the vehicle knowing very well that he was unlicensed. A jail term will meet the justice of the offence as community service or fine will trivialise the offence,” she said.
It is the State’s case that on January 1 at around 2am, Maviza was driving at excessive speed along Drammond Chaplin Road and when he approached a curve, he failed to control the vehicle and encroached onto the lane of oncoming traffic resulting in a head-on, causing the death of innocent people.