UPDATED: Death sentence for aggrieved lover-turned arsonist

A Harare man has been condemned to death following the gruesome murder of his lover and her three minor children who burnt to death in the dead of the night in a premeditated crime of passion.

The prosecutor, Beaven Murevanhema managed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt in the matter in which Bernerd Mazhandi Mucheka (49) was facing four counts of attempted murder and four counts of murder.

In April 2013, Mazhande  could not contain the burning love for his younger mistress, the now deceased Loraine Mutetwa who cut short their wild passions after discovering that she had been lied to as Mazhandi was married and with kids. In a fit of rage and having been weighed down heavily by the bitterness of losing his much invested relationship, Mazhande proceeded to a fueling station, purchased five litres of petrol before boarding a bus to Epworth where Mutetwa resided with her three minor children and waited for the midnight cover to strike.

After having carefully strategised his plan, Mazhande poured petrol on the doormat blocking the exit option for the occupants in the house before proceeding to the window which he broke and also poured more petrol then threw the container inside that the petrol spread before torching the house down with no second thoughts as he believed the minor children would just be collateral damage.

To his ignorance, the house was occupied by eight individuals, four of which were visitors whose unfortunate fate had brought them to the house on the fateful night.

The trapped persons screamed for help as they were trapped in the burning house and their neighbours later came to the rescue but they had already been burnt and after five days Mutetwa and her three children who were sleeping in the bedroom had succumbed to the injuries and died.

The remaining four survivors were left scarred for life and deformed in the process.

Mazhande was arrested when neighbours exposed the threats he had conveyed to Mutetwa via messages to the police, leading to his arrest.

Justice Muremba treated all counts as one in her judgement, sentencing him to a death penalty.

“There are very little mitigatory circumstances in the matter as the murders were premeditated and executed in the most gruesome and excruciating manner,” she said.

“He was well aware that the now deceased lived with her minor children who were innocent in the matter but he went on with his plan, murdering them in cold blood while considering them as collateral damage and this ticks the favor of a death sentence as stipulated in section 47 (a) of the criminal law and codification Act, the court has a discretion to hand out a death penalty and according to section 47 (4)(a) the sentence can be death, life imprisonment or 20 years if offense is in agravatory circumstances. His mitigations are not enough to sway us from the death penalty and as such he is sentenced to death.”

The country however does not have a hangman at the moment.