THE High Court, Musoma District Registry has acquitted a resident of Tarime District, Mang’ana Chacha Mang’ana, on charge of murder after allegedly killing his father-in-law, Joseph Ryoba Magoge for hosting his wife, who left matrimonial home following a marital dispute.
Judge Ephery Kisanya said in the judgment delivered recently that the prosecution failed to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal cases after considering the evidence tendered by both parties, that is, prosecution and defence.
“I am in agreement with assessors that the accused person is not guilty of the offence of murder. I accordingly acquit him for the offence of murder contrary to sections 196 and 197 of the Penal Code and order for his immediate release from custody, unless held for other lawful cause,” he ruled.
The judge noted there was no direct evidence to connect the accused person with a case at hand, as the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence, including the deceased and the accused person having a misunderstanding, caused by matrimonial issues between the accused and the deceased’s daughter.
There was another circumstance relied with effect that in January 30, 2019, the accused person attempted to take his father’s herd of cattle and threatened to kill him, and that the accused person was among persons who were last to be seen with the deceased before he was found dead.
“The law is settled that, where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person,” the judge said.
He noted that the evidence that the accused person was among persons to be seen with the deceased was deposed by single witness, demonstrate how the conditions were favorable to identify the accused person and others who were together with the deceased on that night.
The judge was, however, quick to point out that being the sole identification witness, greatest care has to be taken in dealing with his evidence. He pointed out that the Court is required to warn itself on the danger of relying on the evidence of a single witness to convict the accused.
After going through the evidence tendered by the prosecution in totality, the judge noted major and material contradictions, which went to the root of the trial and, thus, concluded that the single witness who saw the accused with the deceased prior to his death was not a credible and reliable witness.
“Consequently, there remains no evidence to prove that the accused person was the last person to be seen with the deceased, and nothing reflects the accused to be implicated in the case at hand. In the circumstances, the accused cannot be declared with certainty to be the killer,” he ruled.
The prosecution had alleged that the accused committed the offence on February 6, 2019 at Mpakani village within Tarime District, in Mara Region. Facts show that Magoge was the accused person’s father-in-law. On February 7, 2019, his body was found at Mpakani Village within Tarime District.
Post-mortem examination report confirmed that his death was caused by severe traumatic brain injury. Being among the last persons to be seen with the deceased on February 6, 2019 at 22:00 hours, the accused was arraigned before the Court for murdering the deceased.
In terms of the prosecution evidence, the deceased’s daughter, one, Meremo was married to the accused person. She left the accused and returned to her parents at the deceased’s house due to matrimonial issues. Thereafter, a dispute arose between the deceased and the accused.
The deceased wanted to return the bride price, which are heads of cattle and on the other hand, the accused person refused to accept the same. Prosecution witnesses had testified that the accused attempted to steal the deceased’s cattle on January 30, 2019. The deceased raised an alarm and many people responded.
The accused left the scene after threatening to kill the deceased. On February 5, 2019 at around 22:00 hours, one neighbour saw the deceased standing along the road with the accused person and two other people. He greeted them and the deceased told him that, the trio was going to buy some beer for him.
Since then, Magoge was not seen alive again. His body was found at Mpakani Village on the next day, that is, February 7, 2019. The incident was reported aptly to the police station. Thereafter, the deceased was buried on February 9, 2019. The accused did not participate in burying the deceased and was arrested on February 10, 2019 by the villagers and surrendered him to the police station.
In his defence, the accused denied all the prosecution’s claims. He further deposed that he did not participate in burying the deceased because on the 08th of February 2019 he was mourning for the loss of his sister’s daughter who was living at his house.