THE name Charles Matanga Magombedze might be unfamiliar.
He is the 31-year-old man who a fortnight ago begged the courts for a death sentence after a rape and robbery spree.
Magombedze is variably described as intelligent, a murderer, a rapist, a thief, a school drop-out and a self-confessed Satanist who once beat-up his own mother.
Magombedze is serving a 72-year prison sentence after confessing to eight counts of rape before Masvingo regional magistrate Mrs Dambudzo Malunga. People say he was a bright pupil at Mutote Primary School in the Chikova area, attaining four units at Grade Seven. But even at that early age, he acted strangely as he skipped school to spend hours on the nearby Siyawarira Mountain.
It was on Siyawarira that Magombedze hid from police when they launched a full-scale manhunt for him after a spate of rapes.
And when he appeared in court, he begged the magistrate to sentence him to hanging, saying he was a Satanist on a mission to kill people and engage in forced unprotected se_x to breed another satanic generation.
So dangerous is Magombedze that, even as he is in prison, villagers in a 50 km radius of Chivi still fear him.
Most of his victims refuse to talk about their ordeals at his hands.
Mrs Faith Madzivire (32), who survived one of Magombedze’s brutal attacks in Vandira village, was hesitant to talk to The Sunday Mail until she was convinced that the rapist was locked up.
“We are living in fear. Talking about Magombedze breeds fear and I think the 72-year sentence that people are talking about is not enough. They should have just hanged him because who knows, he might get an amnesty and come back again,” said Mrs Madzivire, whose husband is based in South Africa.
For many in the area, the proximity to South Africa provides a gateway to “greener pastures.” It costs $5 or less for a ride to Messina, a town across the border.
Some women left behind by their nomadic husbands fell prey to Magombedze.
“He took advantage of the fact that many women here stay alone. So on February 27 he came to my house and tried to force open my bedroom window at around 1am,” said Mrs Madzivire.
“I screamed for help and he left my house. But Magombedze was still in the area and after a while he pounced on (someone else), whom he raped before striking her on the head with a machete and fled.”
The woman in question is still being treated for head injuries, while an elderly lady who was victimised in the Chitimbe area last year has died.
Mr Chrispen Matanga Magombedze, the convict’s uncle, told us that Magombedze’s parents are both deceased.
The 67-year-old recalls that Magombedze was a stubborn child and dropped out of school in Grade Seven.
He said Magombedze had a long stint in South Africa where it is said he served an eight-year jail term for murder before returning to Zimbabwe in October 2016.
“You could see from his early years that Charles was a stubborn child. I remember he once beat up his mother and at school he was always a problem,” said Mr Chrispen Matanga.
“Strangely, he would pass examinations. He has four units at Grade Seven. When he came back from South Africa, he looked stable and told me he wanted to start farming.
“We agreed that he should build his own house, but he suddenly abandoned the idea. He left our homestead in December 2016 and spent more than a year on the rampage.”
Mr Innocent Museve, a close relative and Magombedze’s senior at Mutote Primary, says the convict was always a bully.
“Magombedze had a big body and I remember him bullying other students at school. But we never thought he would grow into a heartless fugitive,” said 35-year-old Mr Museve.
Charles Magombedze is not married and has no known children.