By Freeman Razemba
Last year was busy for the Zimbabwe Republic Police as several murder cases were recorded despite efforts by the police to curb such cases through campaigns to respect the sanctity of human life.
Most of the murder cases were a result of intoxication, altercations or misunderstandings, family and domestic disputes, among others. The ZRP also recorded an increase in ritual murders and victims who were robbed and killed by armed robbers.
There was also an increase in the number of deaths due to clashes between rival groups of artisanal miners in gold mining areas such as Kadoma and Kwekwe.
In February, a Gweru man was sentenced to death for stabbing his girlfriend 27 times after she refused to move in with him because he had failed to pay lobola.
Dignity Masvimbo (26) of Winery Compound, Greenvale in Gweru, was convicted of murder with actual intent by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo on circuit in Gweru.
In April, traditional leaders in Zaka also expressed concern over the sharp increase in murder cases. This came amid reports that at least four people were murdered across Zaka district monthly, particularly at beer drinking spots.
The traditional leaders expressed concern that in most cases drunk villagers were killing each other over petty issues, a situation they said needed to be nipped in the bud.
Addressing villagers at Jerera Growth Point, Chief Nhema (Mr Rangarirai Bwanyanya) urged the people of Zaka to respect the sanctity of life and find better ways of resolving their differences.
In June, police expressed concern over the rise in murder cases being recorded across the same province.
According to police, hardly a day passed without a person being murdered in the province, with the cases mostly common among artisanal miners.
Most of the cases were as a result of fights after beer binges.
This came after Justin Murozvi died after being viciously attacked by a group of five people suspected to be gold panners over a misunderstanding on June 11.
His brother, Goronga Murozvi, was also stabbed several times in the stomach and was admitted to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare. The gang attacked the brothers using machetes, spears, knives and catapults.
On the same day, Golden Magama was reportedly shot dead by a RioZim mine security guard after a group of about five people attempted to steal gold ore from the mine premises.
On June 7, Law Dombo (27), an artisanal gold miner, was brutally attacked and killed at Watcheer Mine in Battlefields, Kadoma, by a group of about 40 gold panners following a mine ownership wrangle.
On the same day at Norwood Farm in Selous, Forward Chitani, aged 23, who was drinking beer at Norwood tuckshop, died after being hit with a burning log after a misunderstanding with a colleague.
During the same month, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi said the courts were concerned with the surge in murder cases perpetrated by gold panners, who do not show remorse or respect for the sanctity of human life.
Justice Mathonsi, who sentenced two gold panners — Tonderai Ngulube (25) and Nyasha Midzi (28) — to 25 years each in prison for the murder of Gift Mukwenda (19) over a woman, said life was God-given and should be cherished. The pair had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“Life is a God-given gift that should be cherished and it comes once in a lifetime, however, we continue to lose the gift to gold panners who seem to have low life purposes,” said Justice Mathonsi.
“It is very shocking that a person can be subjected to such savagery by other human beings who are evil at heart. Violence should be reduced in communities and those who commit crimes like murder should get tough sentences to send a message out there. Murder cases display evil of the highest order.”
It was the State case that on December 13, 2016 around 1am, a group of gold panners were drinking beer at Cane Nite Club in Shurugwi in the company of two sisters, Sekai and Priscilla Mpofu.
One of the sisters was the girlfriend of Henry Sibangani, a gold panner who is a friend of Ngulube and Midzi. Priscilla went out of the club to meet her boyfriend, the now deceased Mukwenda.
Sibangani learnt about it and confronted Mukwenda and a fight broke out.
The court heard that when Ngulube and Midzi saw that Sibangani was being overpowered they teamed up to assault Mukwenda. The trio assaulted Mukwenda using bar stools until he fell on his knees before Ngulube struck his head with a stool.
Mukwenda died on admission to Shurugwi District Hospital. After committing the offence, the trio ran away. Ngulube and Midzi were arrested the following day, while Sibangani is still at large.
Police in Harare arrested a man at Krinet Lodge in the city after he allegedly stabbed and killed his wife following a misunderstanding in October.
In November, police in Mashonaland West expressed concern over an increase in murder cases in the province, with 10 people having been killed in September. One murder case was recorded during the same period the previous year.
Mashonaland West provincial police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara was quoted saying the 81,9 percent increase was disturbing, with people killing each other over trivia.
He said the majority of murder cases were a result of domestic disputes, beer and drug abuse, while others involved mentally challenged persons.
Most of the suspects in the murder cases used knives, knobkerries, beer bottles and machetes among other dangerous weapons.
And as the year was about to end, on Boxing Day only, a total of 13 people were murdered in separate incidents countrywide, as the ZRP expressed concern over murder and violent cases.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the violent crimes they recorded were assault, rape, attempted murder and murder.
In most cases, the perpetrators used weapons such as knives, broken bottles or iron bars.
In a recent case which occurred in Nkayi, a man was stabbed to death after a brawl with a drinking partner who used an Okapi knife while in a similar incident in Mufakose, a man was stabbed to death with a broken beer bottle after he had questioned why a man was sitting at his gate with his girlfriend.
In Gwelutshena, Nkayi, an 80-year-old woman was struck once on the head with an iron bar before she was raped and robbed of her belongings.
She died on the spot.
Recently, a Harare man was allegedly caught with a human head in the car he was driving after a high-speed chase.
Emmanuel Matsika (27) who has since appeared in court charged with murder, was driving a suspected stolen vehicle. Police had earlier recovered a headless body in a disused toilet in Harare’s light industrial area.
Matsika, who is homeless and lives at a dumpsite near the University of Zimbabwe, appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Elisha Singano who denied him bail and remanded the matter to January 7.
Allegations are that Matsika hatched a plan to kill the now deceased David Arendi.
He allegedly went to a disused toilet at the corner of Lytton and Paisley roads in Workington, Harare, on December 21 and confronted Arendi, killed and cut off his head using a knife.
He then allegedly took Arendi’s head and left his body at the scene. Matsika was later arrested after a high-speed chase and police recovered two blood-stained knives and the head in the car he was driving.
Matsika allegedly indicated to the police how he murdered Arendi at the crime scene.
Prosecutor Mr Shepherd Makonde applied for Matsika to be treated as a psychiatric patient, but the magistrate, Mr Singano dismissed the application saying Matsika was in his right senses and fully understood and appreciated the allegations against him.
Matsika is yet to disclose why he allegedly killed Arendi.
Last week, a taxi driver from Gweru was allegedly kidnapped, robbed and brutally murdered before his body was dumped in a dam with his hands and legs tied with an electric cable.
It is understood that Phillip Kuzorahunye (27) of Mkoba 5 high-density suburb was kidnapped, robbed and murdered by unknown assailants who had allegedly hired him.
His body was later discovered after three days in Zaloba Dam on the outskirts of Gweru. The Herald