The death of a child is devastating. The pain and anguish can be compounded when the death comes through gruesome murder.
Parents and family members can struggle to come to terms with the reality that someone — especially a relative — intentionally killed their child.
Dilan and Melissa Benza (both seven years old) were brutally murdered on their way home from Mbaza Primary School last week and the prime suspect is Solomon Manyama, Dilan’s maternal uncle.
Manyama and his co-accused, Passmore Kumbirai Sambaza have since appeared in court facing murder charges and were remanded in custody to May 6.
“My son’s life was cut short, but his memories will live forever. Each time I see his peers returning home from school, I pinch myself thinking that the nightmare will soon be over and I will hear my Dilan announcing his arrival from school,” said Ms Lydia Manyama, Dilan’s mother.
“He was seven-years-old when he was brutally murdered, being the first born in a family of four, but Dilan had matured well past his age as he was able to execute some domestic chores without any supervision.
“The shining light was doused by the cruel hands of the heartless murderers. I am constantly asking myself why the murderers targeted the Benza siblings. What wrong did we do to lose our children through such merciless killings?” moaned Ms Manyama as she struggled to come to terms with the loss of her son.
The Benza cousins were inseparable even in death as they met their fate together before their bodies were squeezed into the pit of a blair toilet at an abandoned homestead about four kilometres from their homes.
The motive of their murder is still a puzzle.
However, they both had their throats slit open.
Post mortem results were yet to be availed to confirm whether or not there were any missing body parts.
To Ms Manyama, death visited her son in a devastating manner.
“There will never be a day, hour or minute when I will stop loving or thinking about my son. Sadly Dilan is gone forever,” she said in a heart-rending interview with The Manica Post at the Benza homestead in Mhanda, Mutasa, last week on Friday during the two children’s funeral wake.
Narrating the sad events of Tuesday, April 13, 2021, Ms Manyama said Dilan and Melissa were just inseparable.
“Dilan and Melissa were cousins. They were inseparable, even in death. They would walk to and from school together.
“On the fateful day, there was a School Development Committee meeting at their school and I attended the meeting. However, I left a bit early. I never harboured thoughts that I would never see my son again. I went back home to attend to other chores.
“As Grade One pupils, I expected the two to arrive home earlier than other students. However, they delayed coming home. Around 3pm, I started feeling that something was amiss as they would usually arrive home around 1pm. “I checked with Melissa’s parents and they said she was also yet to arrive,” she said.
“When we started looking for the missing children, a neighbour suggested that we communicate with Solomon as he was among the last people to leave the SDC meeting.
“When we called him, he said he had last seen the children near the Kavhuru homestead. We combed the area but did not locate the children. We even searched the nearby Nhindiwa River, all to no avail.
“We called Solomon again and this time he said he had last seen the children near the school grounds looking for wild fruits,” said Dilan’s mother.
What makes the death of Dilan and Melissa even more painful is that the prime suspect is a close relative.
“Solomon is my uncle. He was also close to the children as he was a regular visitor to our place. I never suspected that he would ever be linked to the disappearance and murder of my son.
“His involvement in this case is a bitter pill for me to swallow,” said Ms Manyama.
“I have endured sleepless nights since last Tuesday. I was there when their bodies were retrieved from the toilet. At that moment, my heart broke. I just couldn’t accept what was unfolding before my eyes. The sight was just not fair for me and I fainted,” she said.
Melissa’s father, Mr Benza, wants justice to prevail, even it means the banishment of the perpetrators from the area.
“My daughter was brutally murdered. When her body was retrieved from the pit latrine, she had dust all over her body, an indication that she had tried to resist the attack but was overpowered.
“I think Solomon’s inconsistent answers when he was phoned was a decoy to keep the search parties away from the crime scene as they were still concealing evidence.
“Even if the perpetrators are convicted and given lengthy jail terms, we will never be able to co-exist with their families. These people do not have a place in our society.
“They should be relocated to another area because I cannot continue interacting with them. In fact, they should undergo the same pain that our children went through,” he said.
Mr Benza added:“My heart is bleeding. I recently lost another child in unclear circumstances. The child just complained of stomach pain and died before getting medical attention at the clinic.”
Dilan and Melissa were finally laid to rest today (Friday), 11 days after meeting their fate.
— Manica Post