THERE is widespread alarm in the suburb of Sizinda in Bulawayo following the alleged killing of a 48-year-old mentally challenged man, Vasco Akamunwa, whose body was found near Maphisa Primary School with stab wounds.
The killing of Akamunwa early this month, who was described by residents as an easygoing man who shunned violence, led to fears that there were criminals targeting mentally challenged members of the community for ritual purposes, as two more have allegedly died in the area.
Speaking to Sunday News, the deceased’s sister, Ms Beauty Akamunwa said she was shocked when she was told that her brother had died after being hit by a car on the morning of 5 May.
“I was surprised just like everybody else when I was told that my brother’s body had been discovered. I was told that he had been hit by a car because he was discovered on the side of the road,” she said.
Ms Akamunwa said on arrival at the scene, they began to suspect that he had not been hit by a car but had been killed. A trail of blood seemed to suggest that he had been bleeding for a while before he eventually fell at the place where his body was found.
“There was a trail of blood and that indicated to us that he had been injured some distance away from where his body had been found. There was so much blood, we were convinced that there was no way he had been hit by a car,” she said.
Ms Akamunwa said an autopsy revealed that her brother had indeed been stabbed. “We were told at United Bulawayo Hospitals that he had been stabbed and that it was not a car accident.
We suspect this other man from the community because on the day we discovered my brother’s body, he could be heard arguing with his friends who were castigating him and shouting that he should never have stabbed Vasco.
“Since that time, he has not stayed where he used to live and there have been no arrests in connection with my brother’s murder,” she said. Although Ms Akamunwa said that there appeared to be no parts mutilated from her brother’s body, it did little to allay the fears of a community that believes it has ritual killers in its midst.
One resident who spoke to Sunday News on condition of anonymity, said this was the third murder of its nature in the community within the last two years.
“This has been happening for a while now. We have people that have been attacking people with mental challenges for the past two years. There was a boy who was mentally challenged and his body was found in Umguza with body parts missing.
“There was another guy who was also mentally challenged who was discovered, right before the Covid-19 pandemic started, with his tongue missing. So, Vasco was of a similar state and this is what is worrying people in the community,” he said.
Another resident who spoke to Sunday News said they did not understand why Akamunwa’s life would come to such a violent end for anything but ritual purposes.
“We have seen these things before here and it’s worrying. He was an easy going guy and for anyone to take his life like that again raises our suspicion.” When asked about the incident Bulawayo police could not immediately shed light on the suspected murder of Akamunwa, promising to look for further information on the case.