The Lusaka High Court has sentenced 35-year-old businessman Nshinka Kaputu to death by hanging for murdering his girlfriend, Precious Mangesana, a MultiChoice employee.

High Court Judge Catherine Phiri has also sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment with hard labour for causing grievous bodily harm to his daughter.

Justice Phiri observed that parents had equal rights to a child, but added that in carrying out his selfish motives, Kaputu ended up injuring an innocent child.

In this matter, Kaputu was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Precious, and acts intended to cause grievous harm.

In count one, Kaputu was alleged to have shot dead Precious on October 5, 2017.

In count two, it was alleged that on the same date, Kaputu shot his daughter in the neck, an act intended to cause grievous harm.

During trial, the State called 13 witnesses before closing its case.

One of the witnesses, Dr Luchenga Mucheleng’anga, a State pathologist at Zambia Police, testified that Precious died from a fatal neck gunshot wound within seconds of being shot at from a 15 to 30 centimeter-distance.

He narrated that Precious, whose death was an act of homicide, was first shot in the left arm, then on the left side of the neck, before finally being shot in the left leg after she was already on the ground.

“Precious had three wounds. The wounds showed skin burns because of the near gunshots of about 15 to 30 centimeters. There were no other injuries on the body except for the bullet wounds. She was first shot in the left arm, which was not fatal; then shot in the left side of the neck, this one was fatal as it cut through the major blood vessel in the neck, penetrated the spinal cord and cut it off completely. And the last shot was in the left leg,” the witness said.

But in his defence, Kaputu said on the material day, Precious got the gun from a secret place where they used to hide it at his house and approached him outside the gate, while he was holding their daughter.

He said when he realized that Precious was holding a gun, he got scared and asked her what she was doing with it.

Kaputu said the deceased told him that she was tired of things and just wanted the two to “kill themselves.”

“When I realized from her tone, posture and the things she was saying, I knew she was about to do something. My quickest reaction was to get closer to her and hold on to her gun. We got so close and whilst holding Naila on the other hand, I held on to her right hand where the gun was,” he said.

“Holding onto the gun, I was ensuring that it doesn’t point at me, her but points either down or up, then the gun went off. In that instance, about two to three shots were fired. And from where we were standing, some sparks for the first shots that were fired must have hit the car somehow. I noticed at that point, Naila is down, Precious is also down, gun is also down and I rushed to go pick up Naila that’s when I noticed that she was bleeding from her neck. I was very scared and traumatized.”

But passing her judgement yesterday, Justice Phiri said from the evidence of the prosecution as well as Kaputu’s evidence, it was not in dispute that Precious died as a result of gun shot wounds and that the firearm that discharged the fatal shot belonged to Kaputu.

Justice Phiri further found that the three gun shots on Precious and the one on the child were inflicted by Kaputu.

“Looking at the circumstances of the case, that the first shot was to the left arm, the second shot to the neck, which was a fatal shot, and the shot to the thigh, which was inflicted while the deceased was on the ground, the only irresistible conclusion that can be arrived at is that the accused had the intention to cause grievous harm to the deceased,” she said.

“Clearly, any person who attacks another with a dangerous weapon, can only have one intention, and that is to cause grievous bodily harm or death.”

Justice Phiri said Kaputo, as an experienced firearm user, was fully aware of the dangers of shooting at a person with a loaded firearm.

She said the multiple shots targeted at Precious were done in a savage manner with no regard for human life.

Justice Phiri further said Kaputu’s reaction after the shooting was not one that was expected in an accidental shooting.

“The accused did nothing to preserve the accused’s life. The accused has submitted that the shooting took place as an act of self defence. I find that the defence of self defence advanced by the accused was a mere afterthought. Clearly, from the circumstantial evidence on the record, the accused, without any regard for the life of the deceased, shot the deceased in cold blood and in the process injured his daughter,” she said.

Judge Phiri found Kaputu guilty in both counts and convicted him accordingly.

Passing sentence, she sentenced him to death by hanging until pronounced dead by a medical practitioner in count one and 25 years’ imprisonment with hard labour, in count two.

She said in relation to count two that Kaputo was a selfish parent as both him and the deceased had equal rights to the child.

“Not only was the innocent child injured, this child was his own child. In a passion to claim his selfish rights over her, and I say selfish because the mother and father have equal rights to a child, he ended up injuring the child. It is just by the grace of God that the projectile did not also fatally injure the child,” said Justice Phiri.

Kaputu maintained full composure after the sentence was passed.

And speaking after the judgement, Precious’ aunt, Elizabeth Mangesana, said the judgement was fair and that Kaputu deserved to be hanged.

She thanked God for the judgement, adding; “may Precious’ soul should rest in peace.”