ESIGODINI gold dealer Baron Dube is back in prison after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against conviction and sentence for lack of merit.
Dube (46) of Habane Extension Township was in 2020 convicted of murder and sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva in connection with the death of Prince Antony Bvundura in September 2018.
Last year, he was released by the High Court on $30 000 bail pending appeal against his conviction and sentence at the Supreme Court.
Dube shot Bvundura, a member of a rival mining gang in Esigodini, in the heat of a fight over a mining claim at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini using a Voere 458 calibre rifle.
Bvundura was aged 22 at the time of his death.
In October last year, Dube successfully applied to the Supreme Court to be granted leave to note the appeal challenging his conviction and sentence.
In papers before the court, the State was cited as a respondent.
In dismissing the appeal, Supreme Court judge, Justice Alfas Chitakunye sitting with Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza and Justice Hlekani Mwayera said Dube deplorably failed to show that the High Court erred in its assessment of the evidence placed before it and in convicting him.
“It is clear that nothing has been placed before this court warranting interference with the sentence imposed by the court a quo.
The appellant (Dube) lamentably failed to show that the court a quo erred in its assessment of the evidence placed before it, and in convicting the appellant as it did,” he ruled.
“Equally, the sentence was not shown to be inappropriate in the circumstances.
The entire appeal has no merit and accordingly, the appeal against both conviction and sentence, is hereby dismissed.”
Justice Chitakunye said he found merit in the High Court’s finding that Dube parked his vehicle with lights shining on the miners, because one of his rivals was able to see that the appellant was armed with two firearms; a rifle in his hand and a revolver tucked in his trousers at the waist.
The judge said Dube’s testimony was full of inconsistencies and improbabilities casting doubt on his version.
“As a result, the court a quo cannot be faulted for believing the State’s version of events of what transpired on the fateful day over the appellant’s version.
The conclusion that the appellant was reckless in firing the firearm in the direction of one of the witnesses, Mncebisi Mguni and others in his company is sound,” he said.
“The circumstances were such that he ought to have realised that there was a real risk or possibility of hitting someone and thus causing their death.”
Justice Chitakunye said despite that realisation, Dube proceeded to discharge the lethal firearm towards Mguni and company.
“I, therefore, find that there is nothing warranting this court’s interference with the verdict of the court a quo,” he said.
In his grounds of appeal, through his lawyer Mr Leopold Mudisi of Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, Dube argued that the State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He said his conviction and sentence were not warranted. Dube contended that the lower court erred by convicting him when there was no evidence to support his conviction.
He submitted that his conviction was unsafe, arguing that the State relied on uncorroborated evidence.
“In my evidence, I mentioned that I accidentally discharged my revolver following an attack by gold panners.
The State had a duty to prove that the projectile which caused the death of the deceased was discharged from my rifle and that I was not attacked resulting in me falling into a pit,” argued Dube.
He argued that the firearm accidentally discharged after he stepped on a rock and fell down while fleeing a mob, which was throwing stones at him while baying for his blood.
Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu, who represented the State, opposed the appeal, saying the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Dube deliberately shot and killed Bvundura.
“It is common cause that the deceased was shot by the applicant and died from a gunshot wound.
The court was alive to the fact that the State needed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
“The court rejected the notion that there was an accidental discharge. The court analysed the evidence and concluded that the applicant proffered two versions.”
According to court papers, on September 26, 2018, Bvundura went to work at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini in the company of his workmates. On the same day, Dube arranged a gang of about 20 people so that they could disperse everyone and take over the mine where there was a gold rush.
At about 11PM, Dube armed himself with two guns, a revolver and a rifle and his accomplices were carrying machetes, axes, shovels and picks.
He drove to the mine in his Toyota Land Cruiser with his gang and on arrival at the mine, he chased away all miners, claiming he had been granted authority to operate at the mine by the owner, one Mr Tendai Musanangura.
Bvundura, who was part of a group of miners fleeing during the skirmishes, was shot and he died on the spot.
According to the post-mortem results the cause of death was gunshot wound, heart destruction and hypovolemic shock.- Chronicle