Boniface Patrick @ Mchapo vs Republic (Criminal Appeal 301 of 2021) [2023] TZCA 206 (27 April 2023)

Case summary

This is a criminal appeal in the Court of Appeal of Tanzania at Mtwara. The appellant, Boniface Patrick @ Mchapo, was appealing against a decision made by the High Court at Mtwara, which was itself an appeal from the District Court of Mtwara.

The appellant, along with two others who were not part of this appeal, was initially charged with four counts: conspiracy to commit an offence, gang rape, and two counts of armed robbery. He was acquitted of the first count but convicted on the remaining three. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the gang rape and thirty years each for the armed robbery charges, with the sentences to run concurrently.

The crime occurred on 19th March 2018, when a group of young men, including the appellant, allegedly attacked TKJ and CJ while they were at Litingi Beach within Mtwara Municipality. The victims were robbed and TKJ was raped. The appellant was identified by a witness, PW1, and later by the victims during a police identification parade.

The appellant appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing that his identification by the victims was not reliable as they did not know him before the incident and did not describe him accurately. The State Attorney, Ms. Jacqueline Werema, initially resisted the appeal on the gang rape charge but supported it on the armed robbery charges. However, she later conceded that the identification of the appellant was doubtful and that the charges of gang rape were not proven to the required standard.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the appellant and the State Attorney, finding that the identification of the appellant was unreliable and that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. The court therefore allowed the appeal, quashed the conviction, and set aside the sentence. The appellant was ordered to be released from prison unless he was being held for another lawful cause.

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