By Andrew Kunambura
In a bizarre incident Chief Negomo (real name Luscious Chitsinde) demanded a cow from a widow whose son had committed suicide, saying it was a fine because the hanging had happened within his jurisdiction.
Two emissaries of Chief Negomo who had been sent to collect the cow arrived while the deceased was still hanging in the tree and demanded the cow, a development which irritated mourners who in turn beat them up.
Villagers who attended the funeral last month said the emissaries first arrived at Joyce Maodzwa’s homestead at 7am on September 23 while her son’s body was still hanging in the tree.
They were reportedly in the company of cattle buyers.
They informed the grieving family that they had been sent by the chief to collect a cow from her as reparation for the death of her son, Lovemore Maodzwa (28).
They were however, turned away by a group of mourners.
“They arrived on the day of the burial, very early in the morning at around 7am summons in hand and in the company of cattle buyers. They tried to serve the summons on the mother of the deceased.
“The effect of the summons was to effect collection of a cow as punishment in accordance with Shona culture which says if someone commits suicide there must be recompense by the family as this is a bad omen. The chief wanted to punish the mother of the deceased. This angered the grieving crowd who chased the messengers,” said one villager who declined to be named for fear of retribution.
The chief was however not amused by explanations by his emissaries and ordered them to immediately go back to the Maodzwa homestead and demand the cow.
This time, they pitched up without the buyer, arriving just in time as mourners returned from burying the deceased’s body.
They reportedly retreated in haste as irate villagers gave them a thorough hiding.
“The chief sent his messenger again after the funeral had ended. This greatly angered the grieving villagers who beat them up. They took to their heels to save their lives but villagers gave chase until they were sure the emissaries would not return,” the source added.
Local legislator, Fortune Chasi, confirmed the development yesterday, saying he had also witnessed the incidents.
“I was deeply distressed by this development. I want to assume, in favour of the chief, that it happened without his knowledge. It’s hard to believe though,” Chasi said.
“That the traditional justice system should be so efficient it literally swings into action while the deceased is still hanging on the tree just serves to dramatise the vulnerability of women. Mai Maodzwa is widow so anything can be done to her.
“But I will, as MP, defend her. I will not allow this and I have made this point explicitly clear to the chief and the community. Years back we had a Tsikamutanda (traditional healers) unleashed on the people and cattle were sold for a song at the chief’s command. Some were sold for as little as $80. That era is gone,” Chasi declared.
“In an address at the funeral, I said that attempting to serve the summons while people were still grieving was in very bad taste and certainly not in accordance with the Shona culture. Shona culture does not include auctioneers.
“I pointed out that it was greed of the highest order that was being exhibited and that I would defend the people, and the mother of the deceased even if it meant going to court because even if it was Shona culture it was a practice which was impugned by the Constitution as being undignified primitive.
“I understand that under Shona culture, if anyone was to pay for such incident, the cow would be slaughtered and the meat be consumed by mourners, not that it would he sold for the benefit of the chief,” said the former deputy minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who is currently practising law as an advocate.
Efforts to get comment from Chief Negomo were unfruitful as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Chief Negomo rose to notoriety in 2012 when he fined MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai two cattle and two sheep among other penalties for marrying Locadia Karimatsenga-Tembo in November, which he claimed was a taboo to marry during the month of November in the Shona tradition.
However, Tsvangirai had the fine outlawed by the High Court on appeal.
In 2013, he ordered commercial farmer Pip Mattison of Tavydale farm in Mazowe to pay $1,1 million in compensation to 55 A1 farmers whose crops were destroyed following disturbances brought about by a land dispute.
The verdict was passed as a default judgment after the farmer’s lawyers advised him not to attend on grounds that the traditional leader had no jurisdiction over the matter.
In December 2015, Chief Negomo was sentenced to three months in prison by the High Court after he failed to repay a loan of $147 000 to CBZ Bank.
He is currently embroiled in a bitter chieftainship wrangle with one David Gweshe who last year filed a High Court application seeking an order compelling President Robert Mugabe to appoint him (Gweshe) as substantive Chief Negomo instead Chitsinde. Daily News