FOR those people of a superstitious persuasion, the death of three people at the hands of murder suspect and former police detective, Jaison Muvevi in Hwedza on Friday, January 13 this year bears striking resemblance to the script of the 1980s-premiered horror movie titled ‘Friday the 13th’.
Curiously, the film is said to be based on the real life murders of three teenagers at Lake Bodom, Finland and Muvevi’s macabre story also runs on similar lines of three people losing their lives when he went on a shooting spree.
The Ja(i)son story
Throw into the mix, the first name of the villain protagonist in the Hwedza shootings – Jaison – and it appears like a remake of the frightening old motion picture as its lead character was named Jason.
However, the similarities, slight as they may seem, do not end there as the Ja(i)sons’ surnames also have an eerily rhyming ‘v’ ring to them – Muvevi and Voorhees.
For the uninitiated, Jason Voorhees is a fictional character from the Friday the 13th horror movie franchise that was first shown on the big screen back in the 80s.
Jason Voorhees terrorised Camp Crystal Lake and the surrounding area, slaughtering people to avenge the death of his mother, Pamela Voorhees.
Closer home, Jaison Muvevi is an ex-cop who stands accused of gunning down three people in Hwedza, including a senior police officer, Inspector Maxwell Hove, apostolic sect leader, Chrispen Kanerusine (Madzibaba Sirage) and a bartender, Munashe Majani.
Muvevi’s torment became a thorn in the flesh while he was on the run and the body count at his hands could have risen as he opened fire on police officers in Chiduku area near Rusape and also fired three shots that missed Mr Raphael Nyahwema at Mutare Boys’ High School.
After his arrest, it emerged that he could be linked to seven more murders that occurred in and around Harare.
But unlike the movie character Voorhees who possessed superhuman strength and was tough to destroy despite being shot, stabbed, axed on the head and could apparently come back to life after being “killed”, Muvevi is a mere mortal who was apprehended and subdued after only three days on the run although he had survived and escaped a gunfire exchange with the police in Chiduku area, a day after allegedly committing the heinous crime in Hwedza.
While Voorhees acted out of vengeance for his mother’s decapitation, the motive behind Muvevi’s actions has remained largely shrouded in mystery.
Also, while Jason wore a hockey mask in the entirety of the movies, the face of the murder suspect in the Hwedza killings – Jaison – was not hidden behind any veil.
For someone with supreme conviction in superstition, the callous killings in Hwedza hardly came as a surprise, given that they occurred on a Friday that fell on the 13th of a month.
The coincidence is too pronounced to ignore and connect to the creepy occurrences usually associated with Friday the 13th.
How can one explain that a person was murdered in cold blood at a church shrine; a place where – ordinarily – peace, love and harmony should prevail?
Yet Muvevi fatally shot Madzibaba Sirage at the place of worship and spilled blood!
While some online sources suggest that the name Jason carries “healing” and “salvation” connotations, in the case of Muvevi’s actions, it is far from that as he caused anguish and gnashing of teeth in the Hwedza community and beyond.
Mystery behind Friday the 13th
This day is believed by those who accept everything that comes and goes with it to be a harbinger of bad omen and ill-luck.
According to online sources, Western superstition considers Friday the 13th an unlucky day.
It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday.
This happens at least once every year, but can occur up to three times in the same year.
Usually, every month that begins on a Sunday has a Friday the 13th.
According to this belief, the Number 13 may be associated with misfortune as well as impending and inevitable doom.
In Norse mythology, online sources further suggest the god Loki was the 13th to arrive at a feast in Valhalla where he tricked another guest into killing the god Baldur.
In Christianity, Judas — the apostle who betrayed Jesus — was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and Christ was betrayed on a Friday.
Put simply, in some circles, the Number 13 is thought to be vile and wicked.
Another Friday will fall again on the 13th in the month of October, the second this year after the first was marked by the blood-curdling fatal shooting in Hwedza, exactly two weeks ago.
Perspectives on Friday the 13th
It is not exactly clear when associating Friday the 13th with strange occurrences and bad omen began, but indications are that the myth has been around for centuries.
Friday the 13th superstition is largely believed to be deeply rooted in Western culture and some regard it as foreign to African tradition.
Traditionalist and Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (ZINATHA) president, Mr George Kandiero said beliefs around Friday the 13th are borrowed from foreign culture.
“Friday the 13th does not exist in our African tradition religion. Our customs do not recognise that. It is entirely a borrowed and foreign culture.
“There is no place for those beliefs in the norms and values that define our culture as Africans. Owing in part to globalisation, we are importing certain traditions that are alien to us and if we assimilate them, we may end up losing our way.
“I understand that superstition in that day is prevalent in the West, just like other perceptions like Halloween and they have even gone further to make films based on that,” he said.
Mr Kandiero added that it will be utterly disingenuous to ascribe any ominous notions to Friday the 13th as fortunate and good things can also happen on the day.
“If the day is cursed as some people suggest, what happens to those people whose birthdays fall on that day?” he queried, adding: “Someone can have their lucky day on Friday the 13th. I think it is all in the head.”
He said local communities should not be afraid of holding functions or ceremonies on a day that falls on Friday the 13th as no doom and gloom will come their way.
Friday the 13th may be regarded differently, depending on which side of the cultural or religious spectrum one is on.
Academic and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Dr Pauline Chiripanhura said the phenomenon is difficult to explain scientifically as no empirical outcomes can be achieved.
Very little, if any, known scholarly research exists on Friday the 13th, she added.
“Friday the 13th remains largely hypothetical. This eventually comes down to what one believes in, where they stand in view of the issue. It is difficult to draw a conclusion on the matter based on science, academic research and findings,” said Dr Chiripanhura.
Along with Dr JD Tena of Liverpool University, Dr Jan Fidrmuc – who was at the time an economist at Brunel University London – published an academic paper six years ago which explores the enduring myth that Friday the 13th is a particularly unlucky day.
Dr Fidrmuc said “triskaidekaphobia”, the scientific name for the fear of the number 13, has real consequences which concern economists.
“Commonly, the bad luck is attributed to Jesus being crucified on a Friday and there being 13 people at the Last Supper, one of whom went on to betray Him.
“But until now no one has come up with a scientifically robust way of establishing whether or not there is any objective evidence either way.
“People are much more likely to remember something bad happening on an “unlucky” day.
“And we know that superstition about 13 measurably affects behaviour. So by exploding the myth, we hope to have added our own little fiscal stimulus to between one and three Fridays in a year,” he concluded.
Clergyman Misheck Kembo, the bishop of Kutenda kweVapostori Church, said people must always put their faith in God and not trust in superstition.
“Good and bad things happen in the world anytime and everywhere. The devil is always at work to wreak havoc, bringing misery in people’s lives, but as Christians, our salvation is found in the Lord whose grace is always abounding in our lives.
“In fact, the Scriptures in Philippians Chapter 4 Verses 11-13 and Psalms Chapter 28 Verse 7 remind us on how we should always find strength in Christ under whatever circumstances and in all situations. In good and bad times, God is always with us and no myth can change that; Friday the 13th included,” he said.
— Manica Post