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Elder convicted of wife’s murder

Mophane wood
FIRE STARTER: Mophane wood

Beat her to death with a log after she accused him of cheating

Armed with a walking stick for balance, his eyes speckled red with burst blood vessels, set deep in a weather-beaten face lined with wrinkles beneath a greying, thinning hairline, an elder trembled in horror as Francistown High Court found him guilty of murdering his wife.

Nearing his 80s, frail and old, Phalha Jungwa is likely to spend the rest of his days behind bars. He is due to be sentenced on Thursday (16 December).

The Maitengwe native was convicted of killing his wife, Nkepelang Shanya Nkaigwa, who was found dead at the couple’s home in Mengwe ward in the late evening of 12 March 2016.

During trial, witnesses testified how Jungwa woke them up in the middle of that fateful night and confessed to having beaten Nkaigwa with a piece of firewood after a misunderstanding.

The police were called and arrived to find the old lady lying behind the hut. She was taken to the clinic where the inevitable was confirmed: she was certified dead.

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The post mortem revealed the deceased sustained multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma.

Nervously giving his version of events, Jungwa told court he arrived home from a wedding at around 7pm to find his wife fast asleep.

“I woke her up so she can give me the mattress to sleep on. She went outside the house and came back holding a piece of wood. She hit me in the right cheek, saying I am from my girlfriends,” he stated, adding he acted in self-defence to stop Nkaigwa from striking him some more.

Although he initially maintained he retaliated only by slapping Nkaigwa, with the blow causing her to fall to the ground never to get up again, under cross examination Jungwa admitted he struck his wife with wood from a mophane tree.

Presiding over the case, Judge Matlhogonolo Phuthego dismissed the elder’s claims as fantasy.

“The accused person claimed that the deceased had hit him with a piece of wood but he did not talk about sustaining any bodily injury.

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“Looking at the exhibited piece of wood, which is about a meter long and thick, I have no doubt in my mind that had they landed on the accused as he alleges, he would have incurred visible injuries. The deceased was no danger to him at all; she was on the ground unarmed.”

Sealing Jungwa’s fate, his words causing the old man to shake, the Judge concluded, “I therefore hold that the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that when the accused person effected the fatal beatings on the deceased there was no lawful justification for him to do so.”

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