Crime & Court

Man Gets Life In Jail For Murdering Wife

Peni has to serve 20 years before a pardon may be considered.
31 Jul 2020 11:16
Man Gets Life In Jail For Murdering Wife
Fatai Peni outside the High Court in Suva on July 30, 2020. Photo: Ashna Kumar

Men turn to respond with violence when their partners seek self-autonomy in relationships. The courts duty is to denounce family violence and impose sentences that have the effect of deterrence both personal and general.

This statement was made by High Court Judge Justice Daniel Goundar while sentencing 54-year-old Lau man, Fatai Peni, to life imprisonment for the murder of his 47-year-old wife.

Peni has to serve 20 years before a pardon may be considered.

Peni and his late wife were married for 25 years and together they had five children. The couple started having problems in their marriage and the deceased moved to Suva for their children’s education.

Peni remained on the island of Oneata, Lau, while the deceased lived in Kinoya and worked as a cleaner to support her family.

In March 2019, Peni learned of an extra-marital affair his wife was having while he was visiting her in Suva. He confronted her and she admitted to the affair. After warning her to cease the affair, Peni returned to the island.

In December 2019, Peni returned to Suva for a visit. The incident occurred on December 29, 2019, at the deceased’s home in Kinoya. On this day, the deceased had gone to work and Peni stayed home. During the day, Peni learned from a neighbour that the deceased was continuing her extra-marital affair. After the conversation with the neighbour, Peni returned home and sliced a fish for dinner. He noticed that the knife he had used was blunt so he sharpened the knife and left it on the kitchen sink.

The deceased returned home at around 8pm. She cooked and the couple went to bed after having dinner. Peni asked her for sex, however, the deceased refused. In rage, Peni went to the kitchen and returned with the knife he had sharpened earlier in the day.

Peni stabbed the victim twice on the chest. The deceased tried to defend herself, however, Peni stabbed her back. When she could not resist, Peni held the deceased’s head and slit her throat with the knife.

The deceased sustained multiple stab wounds and died at the scene. After doing so, Peni went to his daughter’s house and told her of the incident. He then presented himself at the Valelevu Police Station at about 11.30pm that same evening and told Police that he had killed his wife.

Justice Goundar said murder was punishable by mandatory life imprisonment with a judicial discretion to set a minimum term to be served before pardon may be considered.

He said in this case, he had decided to set a minimum term, however, Justice Goundar also highlighted that the killing was gruesome.

“The deceased was the wife of Peni and she was the mother of his children and a grandmother. When the deceased chose her own course in life, the offender was not willing to accept that his wife had a right to make that choice. The motive for killing reflects the entrenched patriarchal view that women have no right to self-autonomy.

“The offender took away a human life that he was supposed to protect,” Justice Goundar said.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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