Melfa v. R was a case about the manslaughter of Robert Mensah by Melfa. The court held that Melfa had acted out of self defense and thus reduced his sentence from 8 years to 4 years.
Robert Mensah, goalkeeper number one.
Aka nana, na wak) aburokyire
Kwasia bi te h), eye ne ya
Children the country over had come to know of these lines which told the story of a jealous and bitter man who out of the blue, stabbed Robert. Robert Mensah was reportedly a few days away from moving to Europe to further his goalkeeping career when this supposedly senseless attack ended his life. Melfa, the man who did the stabbing forever earned villain status in a country that had never before seen the goalkeeping prowess of Robert Mensah. A nation robbed of a footballing hero was not an easily forgiving one. But the courts were as forgiving as could be. The reason for that lies in the revisionism of the Melfa-Robert encounter.
Striking his sentence down from 8 year to four years, a look at the years Melfa went in for was enough to tell any bystander that he was not in for murder. Upon appeal, the evidence of the provocation on the part Robert was so overwhelming to not accept Melfa’s self-defense argument.
It was Robert who beat up and threw Melfa against a fence. It was the same Robert who followed Robert out of the bar and continued to attack him. So Melfa could not possibly be the villain here. But no one cares about that bit of a story. Journalists, hungry to shore up their newspaper sales conveniently overlooked that bit of the story. They did not trounce it as much as was necessary to change the narrative. The populace wanted a guilty and blood thirsty Melfa and nothing was going to stop them from getting one. So when Melfa got only a four year sentence, the people could not understand why that was the case. Ghana courts dierrr corruption sorr. I am not even surprised.
Melfa however was surprised. Not at the sentence but at the turn of events. What had begun as a gloomy day when the site manager sent him home without pay turned darker minutes after he was served with his calabash filled pito. A few tables away from him was the unmistakable figure of a national hero. Robert Mensah had been keeping the posts for the national football team as well as one of the biggest football teams in the country. His was a face hard to not recognize. But that day was not one of those days to be a fan boy on. Melfa could not be bothered by lesser things such as expressing his admiration for Robert. All he wanted to do was drink his sorrows away and wish he could dream another job into existence. So when Robert started fighting with his friends, he thought it necessary to go break it up. Not because he was a peacekeeper but because he needed peace of mind and the bar was the only place that offered it. The room he shared with four others was too chaotic for that purpose.
Melfa still labored from flashbacks. How did the bottle end up in my hands? The stab that caused the fatal wound was from a broken bottle Melfa had picked up to warn Robert from attacking him. If you come closer, I would wound you ooo. Robert inched closer and Melfa lurched forward, bottle first and that finished the kill. Never did he ever think he was capable of killing a man.
Being in the police station cells were rough but not as close as life at Nsawam. For some reason, even the worst of inmates, those in for raping children and in some cases killing the victims, thought Melfa was a soul beyond redemption. So they shunned him when the entire prison populace was out in the open. The prison cell leaders, inmates who had spent the most time, ensured that every second of Melfa’s life in prison was hell. They made him fan them while everyone else slept. He could never have his transparent soup and weevil infested cornmeal in peace. Prison was tough but tougher when you were marked as public enemy number one in the midst of armed robbers, murderers, saboteurs and rapists.
Four years came by laboriously and Melfa was released into a world which never seemed ready to accept him. Having had his handcuffed image plastered in the dailies, everyone knew who the jealous Melfa was. But of course Melfa was no jealous person. He just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Getting his life back on track was like getting a train to move on derailed tracks. With no job, no landlord interested in entertaining the thought of housing him and a family that had abandoned him during the 4 years he spent as an inmate, Melfa had no way to turn to. His was a life of misery that saw no end ever since he rammed the bottle through Robert.
Left to his own fate, Melfa found his place in the lore of the country as a villain par excellence. The jealous man who could not see bear the thought of seeing another prosper. When kids sang “Robert, papa”, they evoked the memory of a man they had been told was a green eyed monster. With no trace of his post prison life, rumor had it that he had ensconced himself among the many mentally deranged persons on the streets of Accra. Here, he could be free of the finger pointing and name calling. But others said he had gone blind. Eyes were not gouged out neither did he have a history with cataract or glaucoma. But what was likely was he bawling his eyes out to the point of blindness.
Forty plus years later and the story was still one that casted him as the evil one. It was still Melfa who was the Kwasia. It was still Melfa who in an unprovoked state stabbed Robert to death. No one seemed ready to entertain the thought of Melfa being the victim of Robert’s rash decision. After all, what use was a hero if he did not die a martyr?