LEGAL default has condemned a resident of Mbozi District in Mbeya Region, Nemes Ntalanda, to be behind bars for the rest of his life for unintentionally killing his wife Amina Tulyanje.
This follows the decision of the Court of Appeal to invalidate the sentence imposed by the High Court on Ntalanda, the appellant, for failure by the trial court to convict him before providing such punishment.
Justices Kipenka Mussa, Richard Mziray and Sivangilwa Mwangesi held that by the trial judge’s failure to enter conviction before sentencing the appellant was a fatal irregularity which vitiated the sentence.
“Invoking our revisional powers under the provision of section 4 (2) of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, we hereby quash and set aside the sentence which was imposed on the appellant,” they declared.
The justices added that in lieu thereof, the records should be remitted back to the trial judge to do the needful in compliance with the dictates of the law, notably section 228 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
In the meantime, they ordered the appellant to remain under custody to await his conviction to be legally formalised by the High Court where-after he could commence his appeal process, if he so wished.
According to information which was lodged by the prosecution at the High Court, Mbeya Registry and read over to the appellant on October 7,2013, he stood arraigned for the offence of murder.
The particulars of the offence were to the effect that on July 21, 2011, at Usalalo Village within Mbozi District in Mbeya Region, the appellant murdered Amina Tulanje. He protested his innocence.
Nevertheless, through Joyce Kasebwa, his counsel, the appellant offered a plea of guilty to a lesser offence of manslaughter, saying that he did not intend to kill his wife. The prosecution accepted the offer, and the prosecution commuted the charge to manslaughter, for which the appellant entered a plea of guilty.
Thereafter, the court invited the prosecution to read in detail the facts of the information, which were again admitted by the appellant that it was true that he killed his wife without intending to do so.
Upon the appellant’s own plea of guilty to the offence of manslaughter, he was found guilty of the offence. After the parties presented mitigation factors, the trial judge sentenced the appellant to life imprisonment.
The appellant felt aggrieved by the sentence which was meted by the trial judge and preferred to appeal to the Court of Appeal, advancing four grounds.
However, the four grounds were later condensed to one ground. It is stated that the trial judge erred both in points of law and facts when she sentenced the appellant to a sentence of life imprisonment without being first convicted of the offence with which he was charged.