THE Court of Appeal has confirmed both conviction of three criminal offences and a total of 43 years imprisonment sentences imposed on three residents of Sumbawanga in Rukwa Region, for ruthlessly chopping off the hand of a person with albinism, Baraka Cosmas. Justices Batuel Mmilla, Rehema Mkuye and Ferdinand Wambali ruled against Andius Songoloka, Mihambo Kamata, alias Bichi and Unela Kuwilu, alias Seme, who were appellants, after dismissing the appeal they had lodged to fault the decision of the High Court.
“Looking at the entire evidence, we are satisfied that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and, hence, we confirm the trial court's findings.
In the event, the appeals are devoid of merit.
They are hereby dismissed to that extent,” they declared.
During hearing of the appeal, the counsel for the appellants had submitted, among other things, that the trial judge erred both in points of law and facts when he convicted and sentenced the appellants on the offences of conspiracy to murder,attempt to murder and maiming, relying on their caution statements.
The statements, according to the defence counsel, were recorded contrary to Section 50(1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and that the judge erred both in points of law and facts when he admitted extra judicial statements of the appellants which were taken out on unreasonable time.
In their judgment delivered in Mbeya recently, the justices noted that in the case, there was no direct evidence and in convicting the appellants, the trial court based its decision on circumstantial evidence, specifically from the cautioned statements and extra judicial statements of the appellants.
“On our perusal of the record of appeal, we are satisfied that the appellants' cautioned statements (except that of Kamata) were tendered and admitted properly,” they said.
According to them, all the statements had similarities in the sequence of events from when they set to conspire to the time they effected their ruthless act of chopping off the victim's hand and handing it over to the intended purchaser and how they were arrested.
They further observed that each appellant also gave an account on his participation to the crime and mentioned other appellants with their involvement of the crime, while Sajenti Kalinga, the purchaser, also admitted his involvement and indeed showed and retrieved the victim's hand at his home.
“On top of that, the appellants’ (extra judicial statements) corroborated what they said in their cautioned statements.
In this regard, we entertain no doubt that what the appellants confessed was the truth and hence their statements amounted to confessions,” the justices ruled.
During the trial, the appellants together with two others, Cosmas Songoloka and Sajenti Kalinga, who were acquitted, were charged with four counts of conspiracy to murder, attempt to murder, maiming and possession of human being parts.
It was alleged that the appellants together with two others between July, 2014 and March,2015 at Kipeta village within Sumbawanga District in Rukwa Region, unlawfully conspired to kill one Baraka Cosmas, a person with albinism.
The court was told that on March 8, 2015, during night time at Kikonde Hamlet,Kipeta village within Sumbawanga District in Rukwa Region, the trio appellants together with Songoloka unlawfully attempted to murder the boy by chopping off his right hand.
It was alleged further that on the same time and place, the same people unlawfully wounded or caused grievous harm to Baraka Cosmas by chopping off his right hand with a sharp object, while Kalinga was separately charged with one count of being found in unlawful possession of the human being’s part.
Upon a full trial, the trial court relying on the circumstantial evidence from the cautioned and extra judicial statements of the appellants, found them guilty and convicted Andius Songoloka and Mihambo Kamata on all the three counts of conspiracy to murder, attempt to murder and maiming.
On his part, Unela Kuwilu was convicted of an attempt to murder and maiming.
Andius and Mihambo were each handed a custodial sentence of ten years for conspiracy and all the three appellants were each sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for attempted murder and 18 years for maiming.
Facts show that on March 8, 2015, the victim, Baraka Cosmas,was asleep at his parents' home together with his mother Prisca Shabani.
The victim's father, Cosmas Songoloka, who was among accused persons and was acquitted, had gone to sleep at his second wife's house.
In the dead of night of the fateful date at about 01:00 to 02:00 hours, the mother woke up in order to relieve herself.
As she was going out, she was attacked by a person who hit her on the head as a result of which she fell unconscious.
When she regained consciousness she found that one of her children with albinism (Baraka) was crying in agony while bleeding from his hand.
When she inspected him she realised that his hand was chopped off at his wrist.
The mother went to seek assistance from his brother in law, Paschal, who together with other neighbours gathered at her house.
They rushed the victim to the police station and then to Kamsamba Health Centre for treatment.