Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
A game ranger employed at State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi’s farm in Beitbridge who fatally shot a suspected poacher has been acquitted of murder.
Onias Mahewu (56) of Tongwe Village in Beitbridge and employed at Umzingwane Farm near the border town was discharged at the close of the State case by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Nokuthula Moyo.
Justice Moyo concluded that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case and acquitted him of the murder charge.
Mahewu fatally shot Jameson Chimudoro after he had strayed into Minister Mohadi’s farm in 2013.
Justice Moyo ruled that Chimudoro was an aggressor and poacher, who was trespassing at the time he met his death.
“The deceased was not only carrying a lethal weapon and not only did he trespass, but he was also the aggressor,” she said.
“He reacted violently to Chimudoro’s colleague when he instructed him to stand still.”
Justice Moyo said the State failed to bring up evidence to counter the defence.
“In the circumstances, the concession by the State counsel was proper in our view,” she said.
“The accused person’s conduct was necessary to avert an unlawful attack on his colleague who was not armed and, therefore, his conduct is justified given that the deceased was carrying a spear, which is an equally lethal weapon.
“The court has factored in the aspect that the accused person and his colleague Wonder Hlabathi were on duty doing their anti-poaching activities and the deceased was most probably a poacher and a trespasser at the farm.
“In the circumstances, the court is of the view that the application for discharge at the close of State case succeeds. The accused person is found not guilty and accordingly acquitted.”
The prosecutor Mrs Sifiso Sibanda said on November 20, 2013 at around 2.40am, Mahewu and Hlabathi were on patrol when they heard dogs barking at one of the paddocks near the boundary fence of the farm.
She said the two game rangers became suspicious, went to the paddock and laid an ambush.
“After about 20 minutes, the accused person and Hlabathi spotted the deceased and his unidentified accomplice passing by,” said Mrs Sibanda.
Mahewu suspected that Chimudoro and his accomplice were poachers and he ordered them to stop.
The court heard that Mahewu opened fire and shot Chimudoro on the chest using a 12 bore mega shot gun and he fell.
Chimudoro was taken to Beitbridge District Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.