IRATE residents in Mutare’s Dangamvura who are apparently living in fear of unconfirmed reports of the existence of ritual murderers took the law into their hands on Wednesday and bashed a woman who allegedly kidnapped a two-year-old boy and hid the child in her church garments.
The suspect only identified as Melody and believed to be a resident of Area 13 of Dangamvura, tried to run away with the child after being spotted by its mother walking away.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, confirmed the incident and said investigations are in progress.
“We want to establish what really took place; the state of mind of the suspect; her motive to commit the alleged crime and whether she was working with anyone. We will definitely update you of the outcome of our investigation,” he said.
When The Manica Post visited the area, residents said, when she saw her child being whisked away, Ms Shylet Mudengerezwa (20) shouted for help and members of the public joined in the chase that occurred in maize fields in the Nyamauru section of Dangamvura.
After seeing that the public was closing in on her, the suspect started acting like a mental patient in a bid to attract sympathy.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda said, “Mudengerezwa saw the suspect loitering in the nearby fields wearing an white apostolic garment. An hour later, Mudengerezwa who operates a vegetable market outside her house left her son playing alone at the market stall as she went inside the house to collect some items for displaying.
“After a few minutes she returned and discovered that her son was missing. She spotted the suspect about 50metres away briskly walking away with her son. She shouted for help and at the same time ran after the suspect who was also running away,” said Insp Chananda.
Members of the public then joined in and managed to apprehend the suspect as she approached Mukwena Shopping Centre.
Investigations done by the police revealed that at the time that the suspect was arrested, a Toyota Mark X sedan with no registration number plates was seen in the vicinity and sped-off at high speed.
A resident, Ms Sarah Chikodzi, said: “I stay in Nyamauru and I was on my way from Oasis Pre-School after I had dropped my child. I heard the mother of the stolen baby shouting for help running after the suspect. I joined in the chase and we managed to apprehend the woman. She was hiding the child in her garments. This woman acted normally. She was determined to outpace us, but we did not give up. It is surprising that she is fanning mental illness.
“We are hearing so many stories about ritual murderers targeting children and it scares us. This woman was heavily assaulted by members of the public and on our way to the police station she seem to be comprehending everything including feeling and responding to the beating she was being subjected to. She is now playing dump,” she said.
Another resident, Mr Mike Chigodora, implored on the police to dig deep into the matter as they believe that the woman was not working alone.
“After we arrested her, a black Mark X sedan which was parked near the shops sped off and we suspect that this woman was working with the guys in the car. The police must not be fooled by her actions. She is sane,” he said.
Insp Chananda said the suspect will be taken to court on kidnapping or unlawful detention charges as defined in Section 93 (1)(b) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.
One of the persons believed to be one of the sponsors of the ritual killings, Mr Howard Mangoyana, called on the police to thoroughly investigate the issue.
“My name has been dragged into these alleged kidnappings and ritual murders, but I believe this is the creation of the social media. It pains to be linked to such barbaric acts and this woman should give the police the necessary leads to bring the suspects to book,” he said.