A Zaka teacher, who is a father to four children, has his lucky stars to thank for being a free man after the State and the defence team unanimously agreed to alter a murder charge he was facing at Masvingo High Court to assault.
In July last year, Wright Masunda (49), a teacher at Rudanda High School who runs Skippers Sports Bar at Rudanda business centre, slapped Tarirai Chakona (42) after a dispute at the bar.
Little did Masunda know he was soon to be arrested for murder after Chakona died under almost unclear circumstances a few days later.
As fate would have it, Masunda ended up appearing before Justice Garainesu Mawadze facing a murder charge.
However, his lawyer Knowledge Mabvuure of Chihambakwe Law Chambers, successfully argued that a mere clap could not possibly have caused Chakona’s death under the given circumstances, leading to the alteration of the charge from murder to assault.
On January 18, Masunda was convicted of assault and was given 30 days to pay a $200 fine or face a custodial sentence.
The facts, as agreed by the defence lawyer and the State’s Takunda Chikwati, are that on July 31, 2018 at around 21:00hrs, the now deceased was drinking at Skippers Sports Bar when Masunda slapped him once on the face for allegedly harassing other patrons.
After being slapped, Chakona, who was heavily drunk, fell down and Masunda, with the help of the now deceased’s brother Marufu who was also in the bar, helped him back onto his feet and he later on continued drinking.
When it was time to close the bar, Marufu tried to convince his brother that they should go home but he refused and spent the night at the business centre, only for Marufu to find him the following morning, shivering and warming himself on a fire in the open.
Marufu took Chakona to his work place where he gave him a warm place to sleep but the now deceased began to sweat and he took him home.
The following day, Marufu asked Masunda to help him take Chakona - whose health had deteriorated - to Musiso Hospital in his car. At the hospital, Chakona was admitted and treated of epilepsy and was referred to Masvingo Provincial Hospital for further treatment.
Chakona died on his way to Masvingo Provincial Hospital, and a postmortem report listed subdural hemorrhage (a condition when blood collects on the brain’s surface beneath the skull as a result of head injury), severe skull contusion and head trauma as the causes of his death.
Among other things, the defence argued that the post-mortem did not attribute Chakona’s death to assault and that many other things could have happened to him after the slapping incident since he spent the whole night in the open at the business centre.