A 21-year old homeless man from Bulawayo will spend the next 25 years behind bars after he was found guilty of murdering an elderly woman, aged 81, who is also his former employer.

In May last year, Iphithule Moyo, of no fixed abode, strangled Naomi Titsha (81) from Upper Rangemore on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s second biggest city before  ransacking her home and stealing money, a cellphone and groceries following a salary dispute.

He was sentenced to an effective 25 years in jail after he appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva.

Iphithule’s younger brother, Mjabulisi, who Titsha had employed at her plot in Rangemore found the body.

The court heard that Iphithule got away with money totalling to US$300, a cellphone and groceries that were packed in a suitcase which included mealie-meal, rice, washing powder and salt.

Justice Takuva convicted Iphithule of murder with actual intent.

In passing the sentence, the judge condemned the accused person’s actions, saying he deserved a lengthy prison term for killing a helpless elderly woman.

Prosecuting, Kudakwashe Jaravaza said on May 18 last year at about 9am, the now-deceased was sitting outside her house in Rangemore with Mjabulisi when Iphithule arrived at the plot.

An hour later, Mjabulisi left home to herd his employer’s cattle leaving the now-deceased at home with his brother.

The court heard that Iphithule confronted the deceased and a dispute ensued allegedly over $900 salary arrears. Titsha got inside her house and Iphithule followed her.

“The accused person got into the kitchen and grabbed the deceased before dragging her to the lounge where he strangled her and left the corpse lying on the carpet,” said Jaravaza.

Moyo then ransacked the house and stole US$300, a cellphone, four litres cooking oil, 2kg washing powder, 2kg rice, 10kg roller meal, 500 grammes salt and a suitcase.

He then locked the kitchen door from outside and took away the keys.

Titsha’s body was discovered by Mjabulisi upon his arrival from the pastures at around 5pm. He saw Iphithule roaming around the plot while he was milking cattle. When Iphithule realised that his brother had seen him, he ran away.

A report was made at Upper Rangemore Police Base in Bulawayo leading to Iphithule’s arrest and recovery of the cellphone, keys, groceries and suitcase.

The body was taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) mortuary for a post-mortem.

The post-mortem report established that the cause of death was asphyxia and strangulation by rope. In his defence through his lawyer Wish Ndongwe of Mashayamombe and Company, Iphithule said the deceased was his former employer with whom they a had long standing dispute over $900 which she owed him in salary arrears.

Iphithule said he committed the offence because the deceased did not want to pay him the outstanding money.

state media/Zwnews