EIGHT Chivi family members allegedly whipped their elderly relative for more than 10 hours with mulberry tree switches leading to his death after accusing him of witchcraft, police have confirmed.
The family members allegedly beat the elderly man until they got tired and took a sleep-break before continuing the following morning.
Taurai Hwengwere (46), Bernard Mandava (63), Gift Mandava (48), Apton Musindo (42), Edwin Nyembezi Samu (36), Svodai Tarisai (42), Patience Sibanda (age not given) and Pamela Mandava (age not given) allegedly assaulted Fidelis Mandava (72) with mulberry tree switches all over the body until the next day, leading to his death four days later.
Police arrested six suspects while Patience and Pamela fled the scene and are still at large. Masvingo police spokesperson Chief Inspector Charity Mazula said the incident occurred Friday last week at around 7PM. She said the body of the deceased was taken to Masvingo General Hospital for postmortem.
“I can confirm receiving a report of murder involving an elderly man in Chivi. Eight members of his family assaulted him following a dispute over witchcraft allegations. Police have since arrested six of the suspects.
They are expected to appear in court soon on murder charges. Two others, both female, are still at large,” said Chief Insp Mazula.
She said the elderly Mandava and the eight relatives had a family gathering at his home intending to solve a dispute over allegations of witchcraft. Chief Insp Mazula said the late Mandava was accused of being in possession of goblins and bewitching some family members.
Mandava however, professed ignorance and this infuriated other family members who took mulberry tree switches to mete instant justice on the hapless elderly man.
“They demanded that he surrenders the goblins while taking turns to assault him with the switches all over the body,” Chief Insp Mazula.
The assailants, she said, assaulted their victim until midnight when they left the homestead due to fatigue, only to return the following morning and continued to assault him.
Chief Insp Mazula said the relatives asked if the elderly man was still not willing to surrender the goblins but he maintained that he had none of the said creatures, attracting further beatings.
She said Mandava was only rescued by the arrival of his sister, Ms Pauline Nzombe (63), who stopped the gang but the assailants fled the scene leaving their victim for dead. Ms Nzombe teamed with other villagers and rushed Mandava to Ngundu Clinic where he was treated and discharged. However, on Sunday morning, while at home, Mandava’s condition deteriorated and he was rushed to Masvingo General Hospital where he was treated and discharged again.
Last Monday at around 9AM, Bernard Mandava went to check on the deceased at his home but found him dead. A report was made and officers from Ngundu Police Station attended the scene and took the body to Masvingo General Hospital mortuary for postmortem. Police said a manhunt for the two suspects has since been launched.