The mother of four-year-old Tanatswa Neil Mutyora, who was struck and killed by a kombi fleeing police, has said the two-year-sentence slapped on the driver yesterday was “harsh”.
Ms Liona Kiti said the Mutyora family would approach the courts soon and ask for a new trial.
Mrs Jacqueline Kusotera, wife of commuter omnibus driver Lloyd Kusotera (28), also said her husband did not receive a fair trial and that the family had lost its breadwinner.
Kusotera was sentenced to an effective two-year prison term by Harare provincial magistrate Mr Douglas Chikwekwe.
His licence was cancelled and he was fined US$100 for driving a public transport vehicle without medical endorsement.
In an interview in Rugare last night, Ms Kiti said she was unhappy that they had not been called to testify in court.
“We feel the judgment is too harsh for the driver. No one drives a car with the intention to kill someone. What happened was an accident. Those who were called as key witnesses were biased and it seemed they were drilled on what to say in court. Even my sister, Samantha, who was with Tanatswa when the accident happened, was not afforded an opportunity to give evidence in court,” she said.
In Chitungwiza, Mrs Kusotera told The Herald that her husband’s imprisonment was devastating.
“My husband was the breadwinner and driving was his only profession for the past nine years and he was sustaining the family through it,” she said.
“I don’t know how I am going to take care of these three children.”
Mrs Kusotera, who was with her mother and sister, maintained that her husband was innocent.
“The police caused my husband to run over the toddler as he was fleeing from them. If it was not for them the accident would not have happened.”
She said police should take registration numbers of vehicles for action later instead of chasing them.
Mrs Kusotera said her husband did not get a fair trial.
“The key witness in the case, a 16-year-old girl who was holding the late toddler’s hand when the accident occurred, did not testify. We don’t know why.”
Mrs Kusotera said although cases of kombis running over people were on the increase, her husband deserved a lighter sentence.
“The court should have sentenced him to perform community service. The two-year sentence was too harsh and his licence was also cancelled,” she said.
Mrs Kusotera said they had consoled the toddler’s family and supported them with food and cash during the funeral.
Kusotera pleaded guilty to driving without medical endorsement and not guilty to culpable homicide.
Harare provincial magistrate Mr Chikwekwe evoked mandatory provisions of the Traffic Act after ruling there were no special circumstances.
In addition, Kusotera was barred from driving all classes of vehicles for six months and heavy vehicles and commuter omnibuses for the rest of his life.
Mr Chikwekwe said: “Something must be done to ensure sanity prevails in our roads. Many people have been injured and a dear life was ended prematurely, there is a public outcry.
“The police had a constitutional mandate to approach Kusotera as an offending person but running away from the police against a one way is not a special circumstance.
“Ignorance of the law or greed for money led him to drive without a medical endorsement.
In aggravation, prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri said: “It is now scary to move around the CBD to the extent that people anticipate writing a will before going for shopping. It is wrong for Kusotera to transfer liability to the police.”
In mitigation, Kusotera’s lawyer, Mr Tawanda Takaendesa, told the court that his client panicked after being chased by the police.
At around 5pm on April 22, 2014 Kusotera stopped a white Toyota Hiace at an undesignated pick-up point to load passengers.
Police officers approached him and he sped off against traffic in a one-way street, knocking down Tanatswa.
The child was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Avenues Clinic.