Court name
Court of Appeal of Tanzania

Afrika Mwambogo vs Republic () [1985] TZCA 6 (10 July 1985);

Law report citations
1984 TLR 240 (TZCA)
Media neutral citation
[1985] TZCA 6

Makame, J.A. read the following judgment of the court.  The appellant in this case, Afrika   E Mwambogo was sentenced to suffer death following his conviction for the murder of a person called Charles Augustino, an official of the Game Department.  The High Court (Chua, J.) was satisfied that it was the appellant who shot the deceased to death in the early evening of 5th March, 1978.
  F The Prosecution case against the appellant was based on a Dying Declaration made by the deceased and naming Afrika Mwambogo as the assailant.  Mr. Bateyunga, learned counsel, appearing for the appellant before us, has complained that it was unsafe to rely on the   G uncorroborated Dying Declaration in the circumstances.  Representing the Republic Mr. Teemba, learned Senior State Attorney, supported the conviction.
There was evidence by P.W.1 and P.W.2 that on 5th March, 1978 when they were travelling in P.W.1's motor vehicle at around 6 p.m. they found a person lying on a road, injured.  They   H recognized him to be the deceased who told them that he had been shot at by Afrika Mwambogo and he asked them to take him to the hospital.
The deceased is said to have continued to implicate the appellant even when he spoke to P.W.3 Ganja Musura the Village Chairman, and to the Police.
  I Mr. Bateyunga has pointed out that it was unsafe to convict on the strength of the Dying Declaration in the circumstances, in the

absence of some corroborative evidence.  He submitted that even though the time of alleged  A incident was before sunset the geography of the scene was such that the opportunity for the deceased to see and identify his assailant was not so good so that the deceased might have mistaken the killer for the appellant.
Mr. Teemba rightly submitted that it is possible to convict on an uncorroborated Dying Declaration  B where the conditions for identification are ideal.  He asserts that the Deceased's was one such declaration.  The time was around 6 p.m., the deceased was obviously lucid of mind, and the evidence of P.W.2 shows that although the place was a busy one, one could see between the trees  C "as there was ample space".
Our first concern in this appeal was whether it had really been established that the Charles Augustino mentioned in this case is really dead.  Matters were not as neatly tied up as they should have been and we indicated, during the hearing of this appeal, that we were thinking that we might  D have to order additional evidence.  None of the two people mentioned in the Postmortem Examination report as having identified the dead body to the doctor, Chausiku Ramadhani and Esau Nchimbi, nor the policeman alleged to be present during the autopsy.  P.C. Brown, was called to  E testify.  We were informed from the bar that none of these people not even the police officer, could be located.  We think that the trial court record should reflect such an assertion.
We have since looked at the record more closely and we are satisfied that, in the particular circumstances, there is reasonable certitude that the alleged deceased is indeed dead.  The alleged  F assault was in the evening of 6th March and the doctor's report, on Charles Augustino's dead body, was completed on the following day.  According to PW.1 when he left the deceased in this case in the hands of the Police the latter said they were taking the deceased to the hospital and just  G on the following day the police told him that the deceased had died.  There was evidence suggestive of the fact that a muzzle loading gun was used to shoot the deceased, while the foreign bodies found in the dead body examined by the doctor are consistent with the weapon alleged to  H have been used in this case.  The region of the body in which the wounds were found was more or less the same as indicated by the deceased in this case.  The totality of these facts persuades us to hold that it is established that the said Charles Augustino in this case is indeed dead.  We wish to remark, however, that we find it hard to believe that even the police officer could not be traced.  We  I would urge the Prosecution

  A to endeavour to avoid such lacunae in future which can, in some cases, cause a miscarriage of justice.  So much for the identity of the deceased.
Now whether this deceased was killed by this appellant: We are satisfied in view of the evidence;   B that the Afrika Mwambogo mentioned by the deceased in his Dying Declaration is the appellant in this case, and none other, and that the deceased and the appellant knew each other.  It is also established that the incident occurred before dusk, when one could see and recognize a person from a distance.  What bothers us is the geography of the place.  The  area was richly verdant, and with   C trees.  One description, by P.W.1, is that "The bush was tall but the grass was about 3 feet high.  The bush was thick ... The forest was very thick.  A person standing about 20 paces could not be seen".
  D The deceased was encumbered with two bottles of milk and, evidently, a gun, and according to what he allegedly told P.W.3, he was shot at before he looked "at the direction" and when he did so is when he saw the appellant running away.  The assailant was presumably running away with his back to the appellant, in an area already described, in circumstances of traumatic surprise.  In his   E judgment the learned trial judge correctly pointed out that there was no evidence of the distance between the assailant and the deceased, no evidence of how long the latter was able to observe the former, or whether the assailant was on the road or in the bush.  The learned trial judge seemed   F influenced by, among other things, the fact that the appellant and the deceased had known each other before, the sun had not yet set, and that in 1976 the deceased had caused the appellant's arrest.  He noted also that 'there was a thick bush around the road' but he did not say what the effect of this might have been.
  G Evaluating the evidence on identification, we are respectfully of the view that the conditions of identification cannot be said to have been ideal.  Unlike the learned trial judge, we are further unable to assert, as he did, that the Post Mortem Report can make one opine that the deceased was shot at   H from the front, with the implied suggestion that this would have promoted the deceased's chances of recognizing his assailant.
We think that the deceased was quite honest in implicating the appellant in the dying Declaration and we agree that he reportedly did so.  We are of the carefully considered view, however, that we   I cannot safely discount the very real possibility, in the circumstance, that the deceased could have been honestly mistaken in his belief

that it was the appellant who shot at him.  The deceased's persistence in implicating the appellant,  A which seems to have heavily influenced both assessors, is thus mere evidence of consistency, and of honesty even, but not of correctness.  This was March, 1978 and only in 1976 the deceased had allegedly accused the appellant of killing a buffalo and the appellant was arrested.  The case was  B eventually withdrawn, so the appellant was not only known by the deceased to be at large but was presumably believed by the deceased to possess a gun, and able to use it; and have grudges against the deceased.  The appellant's name would in the circumstances naturally rush to the deceased's mind, once he was shot at in the bush. C
We are satisfied in the absence of corroboration it would be unsafe to uphold the conviction.  We accordingly allow the appeal and consequently quash the conviction, set aside the sentence and order the appellant's immediate release unless he is otherwise lawfully in custody. D
Appeal allowed.

E