Tanzanian Court acquits woman charged with murdering her ex-lover

THE High Court in Dar es Salaam has acquitted Lady Agnes Matuta, who was charged with murder of her ex-lover, Msafiri Seleman, after setting ablaze his room while sleeping with another sexual partner at Kidagaa Kimbiji area within Kigamboni District.

Judge Edwin Kakolaki ruled in favour of Agnes after the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case requiring her to enter defence evidence against the murder charge allegedly committed on the night of December 24, 2013, prior to Christmas Eve.

“I find no prima facie case has been established by the prosecution to entitle this Court call the accused person (Agnes) to enter her defence on the charge at her door as per the requirement of section 293(2)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA),” the judge said.

He declared, “I therefore under section 293(1) of the CPA, find the accused person not guilty of the offence of murder, contrary to 196 of the Penal Code, as charged and proceed to acquit her accordingly. It is so ordered.”

During the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses, including the sexual partner with the deceased, neighbour, doctor and police officer. In their evidence, none of them saw the accused torching the deceased’s room.

The prosecution had relied on the testimony of the deceased girlfriend, who testified to have heard her lover while in the room saying it was the accused who set on fire their room as he recognised her voice when she shouted, “tuondoke nimeishawaua’’ meaning “let us go, I have already killed them.”

In his judgment delivered recently, the judge pointed out that it is the law that, voice identification is one of the weakest kinds of evidence and therefore great care and caution must be taken by the Courts before acting on it.

“The reason as why such care should be employed before the Court acts on such evidence is not farfetched as there is a possibility of mistaken identity by voice where it is claimed that, the person identifying has never had face to face discussion with the person he identified,” he said.

Judge Kakolaki further said that before any court relies on the evidence of voice identification which requires corroboration must satisfy itself that the witness so identifying is familiar with the voice of the person identified so as to erode the possibility of mistaken identity as voice is capable of being imitated.

He noted from the testimony of girlfriend with the deceased that was informed by her lover that he identified the accused by her voice. Unfortunately, the judge said, the Court was not availed with any evidence to the effect that the deceased was familiar with the accused person.

There was evidence from neighbour that was reliably informed by one Fatuma that the accused and deceased had love relationship. The judge, however, said that to the Court’s dismay, the said Fatuma was not brought to testify on such the fact that the deceased was familiar with the accused voice.

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