Murder cases show a rising trend in Zimbabwe, according to statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. In 2018 more than 1,450 murders were reported, this number increased to more than 1,700 cases in 2019 and to nearly 3,600 cases in the two-year period between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. The yearly average of 1,500-1,600 murder cases means that each month more than 100 persons are being murdered.
It is not known how many ritualistic murders (‘muti murders’) are included in this yearly average of 1,500 – 1,600 victims. Statistics only reveal part of the truth. By definition, ‘muti murders’ are murders committed in secret, and some victims (statistically recorded as ‘missing persons’) are never found. Only discovered bodies of victims with ‘parts’ (often organs) missing indicate that a murder for ritualistic purposes has been committed, but even then one has to be careful and not jump to conclusions as the perpetrator(s) may intentionally mislead the investigators by removing body parts.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the occurrence of ritual murders constitutes a problem in this Southern Africa country (as it does in neighboring countries). Recently, a debate on the persistent problem of muti murders arose after the discovery of a mutilated body in Greystone Parts, near Hatfield, in Mashonaland East and southeast of the capital Harare.
In the article presented below also reference is made to the notorious Tapiwah Makore case, referring to the seven-year old boy who was murdered for ritualistic purposes by his uncle in 2020 (see previous posts). But, as the article relates, Tapiwah Makoreh (also spelled as Tapiwa Makore) was not the only or last victim of unscrupulous murderers who are driven by greed and superstition. Unfortunately, the discovery of the dead body of Faith Musonza in Greystone Park only confirms this sad conclusion. (webmaster FVDK)
Zimbabwe grapples with ritual murders
Published: February 26, 2023
By: Staff reporter – The Zimbabwe Mail
IT is late afternoon in the heart of Greystone Park, some 20 kilometres from Hatfield, where the gruesome murder of Spar employee Faith Musonza is said to have occurred.
A relative’s home in Greystone Park is where her funeral is taking place.
A gentle breeze steadily blows across the yard as if everything is normal, but this is not the case.
Mourners have been stunned into silence as they struggle to come to terms with the sad news of Musonza’s untimely death.
“We are still trying to process everything; it feels like a dream,” said one of the relatives who appeared non-plussed at the funeral wake.
Musonza’s husband, Fradreck Chasara, was visibly disturbed, as he unsteadily alternated between a black leather couch and the carpeted floor.
Musonza was recently killed in Hatfield by unknown assailants as she headed to her rented house in Cranborne from work.
Her mutilated body was found dumped in a storm drain. Heinous crimes involving grisly murders have become prevalent of late. The sanctity of human life is no longer being observed.
In 2020, the nation woke up to news of the callous murder of seven-year-old Tapiwa Makore in a suspected ritual killing.
He was buried the following year, with his head still missing. The incident left many with a lot of unanswered questions.
Last year, in Nyanga, two related seven-year-olds were found dead in a disused house in the village, with their throats cut open and blood drained.
Several other murder cases have been reported across the country.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the number of murder cases continue to rise with each passing year. At least 1 453 cases were recorded in 2018, before rising to 1 733 the following year. Between January 2020 and December 2021, 3 583 cases were recorded.
Overall, the cases averaged between 1 500 and 1 600 every year.
“A murder case is recorded every week; in some situations, even two or more, with the trend growing in all provinces,” said Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.
Most of the killings, he said, are associated with infidelity, alcohol abuse and rituals. Statistics from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) also corroborate the same trend.
“In January 2021, we had 630 people incarcerated for murder and the figure rose to 845 by October that same year.
“In January 2022, we had 817 and the figure stood at 984 by November,” said ZPCS.
Mental health issues
Psychologist and University of Johannesburg post-doctoral researcher Dr John Ringson believes most murders are caused by mental health issues.
“When one is mentally unstable, even a small argument can trigger aggression. We have had cases of people who committed murder for beer or small amounts of money. Mental health issues need to be addressed at national level,” he said.
Drugs and substance abuse, he added, were also causing mental health challenges that push people to commit crimes.
Traditionalist Mbuya Calista Magorimbo says some bogus witch doctors who encourage harvesting of body parts for rituals (kuromba) to boost business fortunes are also causing the unnecessary loss of human lives.
“Ritual killings for purposes of becoming wealthy have existed since time immemorial. However, the situation has since gone out of hand due to prevailing economic hardships,” she said.
“Some even harvest body parts for charms to make them powerful at work or to get healed from certain ailments. Women and children are often murder targets.”
She, however, argues that such rituals have never been proved to be effective.
“This is pure cultism, which yields nothing but generational curses, yet some people believe it actually works. Murder only brings trouble!” she warned.
Killings only attract avenging spirits and generational curses, according to Sekuru Peter Maponda, which he believes only serve to perpetuate a vicious circle of crime and murder. Roman Catholic priest Father Paul Mayeresa says avenging spirits exist.
“The Bible values the sanctity of life and does not allow killing under any circumstances. Some murders are due to either temporary or permanent insanity, while others are premeditated revenge,” he said.
“Avenging spirits exist and depending on the relatives of the deceased and their spirituality, some families end up forgiving the perpetrators while others prefer to let the dead fight from the grave.”
House of Refuge International Ministries founder Apostle Partson Machengete is of the opinion that “poverty has left most people desperate to get rich overnight”.
“As a result, they are forced to believe myths that ostensibly offer solutions to their problems. Witch doctors are fleecing the vulnerable and pushing them into unholy acts. They are made to believe the rituals will make them rich.”
He, however, feels some murder cases are genuine accidents and, in some instances, a result of self-defence.
There is consensus that communities need to be sensitised on the need to observe the sanctity of human life.
“We need all stakeholders to come together and formulate programmes that educate the community on the issues and bridge existing gaps,” urges Laws of Attraction psychologist Blessed Chinyangare.
“There is a human element and a spiritual element to this issue, hence it has to be tackled from both ends.”
Headman Zvinowanda Pfumbidzai of Machera village in Hwedza said in murder cases, the funerals and burials should be different from ordinary ones.
In African tradition, he said, murder invites curses for both the victim and the perpetrator’s families, hence rituals become necessary to cleanse the parties involved.
“Traditionally, the wronged family conducts rituals — kureverera — to provoke the spirit of the deceased to go and get revenge, so, in return, the murderer should pay damages — kuripa.
“The victim’s family should be given room to indicate their price during the process. Likewise, the victim’s family should also conduct a cleansing ceremony,” he said.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring South Africa, murder cases reportedly increased by 22 percent since 2012.
Most of the killings usually occur between Friday and Sunday.
The South African Police Service has since deployed desk-based police officers to the streets, particularly in identified hotspots, while dedicated detectives track and arrest suspects wanted for violent crimes. – Sunday Mail