THE Court of Appeal has upheld the death penalty slapped on Keith Mukata by the Lusaka High court for murdering his security guard.
Delivering judgment in Kabwe yesterday on behalf of others, Court of Appeal judge Chalwe Mchenga found that Mukata had intentions to kill his guard Namakambwa Kalilakwenda when he concealed the firearm he used in his vehicle.
“I find that the appellant’s 14 grounds of appeal have failed and the trial judge was on firm grounds when she convicted and sentenced him for murder,” judge Mchenga said.
This is in a matter where the murder convict was challenging the High Court’s decision to sentence him to death by hanging for the murder of Kalilakwenda of Men in Black Security firm on May 6, 2017 at his law firm AKM Legal Practitioners.
In his judgment, judge Mchenga found that the trial judge Susan Wanjelani was on firm grounds when she found that Mukata had intent to murder his security guard because he concealed the gun in his motor vehicle in a basket that contained plates and hid the keys to the car in a flower bed.
He said there were no intruders at Mukata’s company because he was the only one who was at the scene therefore he could not find fault in the trial judge’s decision to dismiss claims by the appellant that there were intruders at his law firm, as the deceased was killed inside the premises.
Judge Mchenga ruled that justice Wanjelani could not be faulted when she concluded that Mukata and the security guard were face to face at the time of the shooting, therefore it was not possible that he was killed by a gunshot that was fired outside the law firm because the appellant, a holder of a firearm license, should have known the effects of firing a pistol at a person.
The court said the finding by the trial judge that the three empty cartridges that were discovered at the crime scene and the testimony by Collins Kabanda, a security guard of Altitude Advertising firm, that he heard someone order the deceased to open the gate after which three gunshots were fired did not prejudice the convict in any way.
He further ruled that there was no inference drawn by the trial judge when she found that there was overwhelming evidence to warrant Mukata’s conviction upon the State having proved the case beyond reasonable doubt as the only inference that could be drawn was that of guilt.
Mukata, who is a lawyer, was sentenced to death on February 28, 2018.
He then appealed against the High Court’s decision in the Court of Appeal on grounds that justice Wanjelani misdirected herself when she convicted him of murder based on circumstantial evidence.
Mukata had asked the Court of Appeal to acquit him of murder as there was no evidence linking him to the death of his security guard.
Mukata, who was represented by lawyers Mutemwa Mutemwa, Kasumpa Kabalata, Milner Katolo, Keith Mweemba and Wilis Muhanga, argued that judge Wanjelani erred in law and fact when she admitted evidence, which was not on record, leading to his conviction.
When the matter came up for hearing before a panel of three Court of Appeal judges, namely Chalwe Muchenga, Dominic Sichinga and Betty Mungomba, the convict, through his lawyers, submitted that the trial judge erred in law and fact when she found that he had malice aforethought before and after the incident, when he concealed the fire arm in the motor vehicle when there is no evidence on record to support such a finding.
They stated that Justice Wanjelani erred in law and fact when she dismissed Mukata’s testimony that there were intruders at the crime scene.
But judge Muchenga dismissed Mukata’s appeal and upheld his conviction on the charge of murder.
“We uphold the appellant’s conviction on the charge of murder. We have also looked at the sentence in light of the evidence that was before the trial judge and we equally uphold the sentence,” said judge Muchenga.
“The evidence before the trial judge did not disclose any extenuating circumstances to warrant the imposition of the sentence other than the one she used. The appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”
After the judgment was passed the former Chilanga member of parliament concealed his sorrow by wearing a smile as he shook hands with his acquaintances. Meanwhile, he’s lawyer, Milner Katolo, said he was awaiting for instructions from his client on whether to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Supreme Court.