fter 10 years of seeking justice, the High Court sitting in Zomba finally sentenced businessperson Misozi Chanthunya to life imprisonment for murdering his Zimbabwean lover Linda Gasa.
The court further sentenced Chanthunya to two years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for perjury and hindering burial of a dead body contrary to sections 101 and 131 of the Penal Code. The sentences will run concurrently from the conviction date.
Presiding Judge Ruth Chinangwa said brief facts were that in 2010 Chanthunya murdered his 25-year-old girlfriend as per the submitted medical reports which recorded the deceased was poisoned, smothered and stabbed four times.
Gasa, a then a student at Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA), went missing in August 2010 before her body was discovered buried in a bathroom at Chanthunya’s cottage at Monkey Bay in Mangochi.
Courts records indicated Chanthunya lied about her whereabouts when interrogated by the police whereas evidence revealed he attempted to have her buried in a hole as well as dump her in Lake Malawi but all efforts failed him.
In her ruling, the judge stated in mitigation, Chanthunya through his counsel Michael Goba Chipeta, prayed for a 10-year jail term, arguing he was a first offender and had already spent seven years in pretrial custody while in South Africa where he fled before his arrest.
Chipeta also argued the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence and did not show a clear motive and that the accused was not a threat and there was no likelihood of him committing the crime.
On its part, the State through its lead counsel Steven Kayuni prayed for a life imprisonment arguing the killing was unprovoked and in cold blood by a person the deceased trusted.
Kayuni further argued the killing was premeditated and the convict never showed any remorse throughout 10-year-old trial as the deceased family was traumatised beyond their mitigation as they pursued justice of their relation’s murder.
Reacting to the sentence, Kayuni expressed satisfaction with the outcome while on the other hand Chipeta described it as “unfair trial” and indicated they would be appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Gasa was believed to have been murdered on or around August 4 2010 before Chanthunya fled the country for South Africa on August 19 2010.
Her body was discovered almost a month later dressed and covered in a duvet after police dug out the concrete bathroom.
A postmortem conducted by the country’s top pathologists Dr Charles Dzamalala and Professor George Liwomba found that Linda was poisoned.
Gasa’s family repatriated her body to Zimbabwe where another postmortem was carried out.
Malawi Police issued a warrant of arrest for Chanthunya on September 21 2010 and after almost two years of man-hunting he was arrested in June 2012 after government sought help from the South African Government.
However, the convict fought his extradition for seven years before government finally brought him back home for trial on March 1 2018.
He arrived back in the country amid tight security accompanied by International Police (Interpol).