The Solwezi High Court has sentenced 42-year-old Patrick Sangunja to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of murdering his wife, Gertrude Kanema, on August 25, 2022, in Mwinilunga District.
Solwezi High Court Judge Obister Musukwa presided over the case and delivered the judgment, stating that Sangunja deliberately caused fatal burns to his wife, an act described as both unlawful and a calculated move with the intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
The court heard that Sangunja poured petrol on Gertrude Kanema and set her ablaze, alleging suspicions of an extramarital affair. Despite Sangunja’s denial of the charges and his claim that the deceased set herself on fire, the prosecution presented evidence that convinced Justice Musukwa of Sangunja’s guilt.
Gertrude Kanema suffered fatal burns from her face to the abdomen and succumbed to her injuries two months after the incident at Mwinilunga District Hospital.
The court rejected Sangunja’s defense, emphasizing that his actions were premeditated and not a result of a heat of passion or loss of self-control.
Justice Musukwa remarked, “I find the accused being economical with the truth in light of his testimony that his wife burnt herself; this is a concocted story, and he cannot benefit from it.”
The judge concluded that the accused deliberately set his wife ablaze with the intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
Taking into account the gravity of the crime and finding no mitigating circumstances, Justice Musukwa handed down a life sentence to Sangunja. The judge emphasized that there were no explanatory circumstances on record that would warrant any other sentence.