IN a bizarre incident, a Bulawayo woman has for the past five months been keeping part of her severed middle finger, which she first allowed to dry after it was bitten off by a neighbour following a misunderstanding over a bucket of maize.
Ms Tendai Ncube (59) of Beuna Vista dried the tip of the left hand finger and has been moving around with it in her handbag since the incident happened on 20 November last year.
“I will always keep this fingertip as evidence that my neighbour bit me over a bucket of maize, I am still hurt,” she said, showing Sunday News the tip of her finger.
According to Ms Ncube, who survives on picking plastic bottles and selling them to local companies in the city, trouble started when she borrowed a bucket of maize from Mrs Bekezela (Matsha) Matshazi who lives in the same suburb.
“Matsha is my good friend, she is 62 years old and is my neighbour. I have a big stand and I planted my maize there so one of the people who assisted me in ploughing the land needed to be paid so I asked Matsha for a bucket of maize which I intended to use as payment. My daughter had said she would bring me the maize from her home in Cowdray Park the following week but I needed to pay the worker earlier,” she said.
Ms Ncube said her daughter had promised to bring the maize on a Friday but she failed.
“The next Wednesday early in the morning Matsha came to my house and as usual I went to the gate to welcome her but she was not in a friendly mood. She started shouting saying she didn’t want to see me ever again as I had not delivered the maize. So I reached out to hold her hand so that we get into the house to avoid attracting the attention of neighbours but she started to beat me up and I held her trying to push her away and she grabbed my hand and bit my finger,” added Ms Ncube.
She said her daughter then came outside after hearing their noise and found them wrestling on the ground.
“When my daughter came out of the house, that is when Matshazi spit out my finger which she had bitten off and walked away. I then composed myself and saw that my finger was now on the ground with threads of flesh hanging. I then screamed at her saying she had bitten off my finger over a bucket of maize and she shouted back a statement that I did not hear,” she said.
Ms Ncube said she rushed to report the matter to the police and passed through her friend’s home where people had gathered after hearing about the incident.
Ms Matshazi is said to have arrived at the police station before Ms Ncube and made a police report saying she was assaulted.
The matter was heard before the courts where Ms Matshazi was found not guilty as she argued that she was “defending herself from assault”. Ms Ncube said she will take the matter to the civil courts as she still feels justice was not served and that she also catered for her own medical bills which she says her friend should have taken care of.
Doctors have, however, said she suffered permanent disability after the incident and she now has trouble in that she cannot use the affected hand as two of the fingers can no longer bend. She also says she can no longer work in her fields or pick up plastics as she used to before the incident.
The friendship also has turned sour as Ms Matshazi does not talk to Ms Ncube anymore.
“She does not respond to my greetings and I am actually scared of her now. I also feel the courts did not do justice as she never even apologised to me. I am very bitter,” she said, waving the remains of her finger in the air.
Asked why she still keeps a part of the finger, she said she will stop doing that once she feels that justice on the case has been delivered.
“After I went for treatment at UHB they told me to throw it away but I didn’t. I will discard the finger once the matter is settled,” she said.
However, Dr Blessing Zambuko a consultant pathologist said the normal procedure was to submit the severed part of the finger to hospital authorities.
“The normal procedure is that one must submit the limb to a hospital who will then send it to the laboratory for examination or they hand it over to the police who will send it to forensic pathology for examination. After all is done, all specimen will not be returned to the patient but shall be properly disposed of by incineration. Under normal circumstances, the limb cannot, and must not be kept in the home,” said Dr Zambuko.