By Garikai Mazara
The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of slain seven-year-old Tapiwa Makore’s missing head and hands has deepened.
The traditional healer suspected of being the brains behind the ritual murder is saying it was pure coincidence that he happened to visit the village the week that the boy disappeared and was allegedly murdered.
Tapiwa disappeared on Thursday September 17, only for his torso to be dragged by dogs into a village compound the following morning.
Tinei Makore, also known as Marvellous Muchedzi, who is a known traditional healer, had left the village the previous day, Wednesday September 16.
The Sunday Mail tracked him down and found him at his compound in the Mvurwi farming area. He confirmed that he had, indeed, visited his home village in the three days preceding Tapiwa’s disappearance and subsequent murder.
He revealed that he spent his three-day stay in the village with Tapiwa Makore Senior, the co-accused in the disappearance and alleged murder of Tapiwa Junior.
“I had been away from my village for slightly more than a year. I got a witch-hunting job to do at Chabwino Farm, in the Shamva area, and after I was paid, I decided to go home and catch up with my cousins,” narrated Tinei.
“I left this farm (Mvurwi area) on Saturday and arrived in Makore village Monday. Since I moved out of the village some three years back and there is no one staying in the home which we used to stay, Tapiwa Senior said I could spend my days in the village staying with him.
“On the Monday, we spent time in the village mixing with other folks, trying to catch up. That night I slept at Tapiwa’s home. The following day, I spent almost the whole day attending to my motorbike which had a puncture.
“Tapiwa Senior said he was going to work with other villagers on deepening his well, as the water was no longer enough for his cabbages.”
Tinei said he slept at Tapiwa Senior’s home as well that Tuesday evening before bidding him farewell on Wednesday morning as he returned to Mvurwi.
“I stopped-over at Kashiri’s place, Fraser Farm, around the Bindura area, on my way here. I slept there Thursday and arrived back on Friday. Then on Saturday morning, I received a call from the person I had visited at Chabwino, asking me if it was true, the news that was coming from Makore village that a child had been found murdered.
“That is how I got to know that there had been a murder back in my village. I told him I was back in Mvurwi and had not heard anything. Then the news started circulating on social media and I phoned some relatives back home, only to find out if it was true.”
A self-confessed traditional healer since 1992, “when I was 20 years old”, Tinei said it was happenstance that he decided to visit his village the same week that Tapiwa Junior disappeared and coincidental that he stayed with Tapiwa Senior, the co-accused in the disappearance and murder of Tapiwa Junior.
Chief Superintendent George Mugonda, Officer in Charge at Murehwa Police Station, confirmed that Tinei is a suspect, though they were not sure about his whereabouts.
“We have been informed by the family that a relative, long known as a traditional healer, visited the village in the days leading to the disappearance of Tapiwa Junior. We are yet to interview him as we don’t know his whereabouts,” the police supremo in Murehwa district said.
In Makore village, Munyaradzi Makore and wife, the parents of the murdered boy, said though they do not have any conclusive evidence linking Tinei to the murder, what they cannot understand is the coincidence around their relative, a known tsikamutanda (witch hunter), visiting at about the same time their son disappeared.
“For the time being we are working with what Tafadzwa Shamba has indicated and further than that, we are not privileged to comment nor can we assume. It’s just that the coincidence is too much to stomach for us. We will leave the police to conclude their investigations,” said Munyaradzi, the father.
Chief Supt Mugonda said besides Shamba’s confessions, which led to the discovery of the boy’s legs, they have no further information.
“The co-accused, Tapiwa Makore Senior, is refusing any involvement in the murder. In fact, he is not saying anything apart from his name. So all the information that we have so far is what Tafadzwa has told us.”
According to Makore villagers, Tapiwa Senior lived in Harare for several years before returning to the village in July this year with a proposal to do a cabbage project. And for effect, there are times when he came with his “investors” to have a look at his settings.
The long-term plan was to drill a borehole, with the help of the “investors”. However, after a couple of visits, the “investors” stopped coming to the village for the progress checks. Besides the cabbage nursery, land had been prepared for transplanting the same.
Stuck with more than enough cabbage seedlings, Tapiwa Senior is said to have started selling the seedlings, which apparently found no takers, as the water sources were drying up in the area. He, however, managed to transplant some of them in his garden.
Then Tinei, the traditional healer, paid the three-day visit, arriving on a Monday, departing on a Wednesday, a day before Tapiwa Junior disappeared.
On Friday September 18 morning, a dog dragged a human torso into a nearby village compound.
“What pains us up to now,” narrated Mrs Makore, Tapiwa’s mother, “is that uncle Tapiwa accompanied us on the six-hour party that we had to look for my son. But looking back now, we now understand that he was interfering a lot with the search, saying things that dispirited us.
We abandoned the search around midnight, which tallies with the time that Tafadzwa said they killed my son.
“The following morning, as soon as daybreak, we resumed the search. Then the boy was sent to where we were, advising us to abandon the search and go home. I started crying, I knew that my son was dead.
But my thinking then, as I had sent him to the garden, was that he had drowned in a well. I was asked not to go where everyone was going, but asked to go to my mother-in-law’s place.
“This was around 7am. I was only asked to attend the scene around 3pm when the police had already been called in. My husband, though, had been there.
When I got there the torso was covered with a blanket and I did not see anything. The only time I saw it was when it was put into the steel coffin.”
At the time of his disappearance, Tapiwa Junior was putting on a maroon trousers and a white round-neck jersey with blue stripes. His shoes were found by the garden but the clothes have not been found yet.
When investigating officers returned after collecting the body, they asked everyone in the village to stand with his wife. All the women were asked to stay in one place and as the men went on a search of each household.
A trousers with blood stains was found in Tafadzwa’s room. Tafadzwa was staying with Tapiwa Senior as his herd boy. During initial and separate questioning, Tapiwa Senior is said to have said that the blood was that of a chicken that he had asked Tafadzwa to kill for their meal.
On the other hand, Tafadzwa is said to have said he had slept with a virgin the previous day. When the named girl was asked, she refused having slept with Tafadzwa.
Interestingly, Tinei, the traditional healer, in admitting that for two nights he slept in one of Tapiwa Senior’s spare bedrooms, said that Tafadzwa was not staying with Tapiwa Senior, but was staying at the Katsande homestead, a stone’s throw from Tapiwa’s homestead. He said Tapiwa Senior prepared the Tuesday meal for him.
In accordance with local traditions, Chief Mangwende has ordered that no corpse will be buried in his area without a head.
Thus, the Makores’ appeal to the co-accused is to come clean on the whereabouts of their son’s head so that he can be accorded a decent burial.
“We want our son to finally be put to rest but we are appealing to those who have our son’s head to come clean, there is no need to keep hiding it because the whole world now knows what happened. We want closure on the matter, at least for now,” said the mother.
Chief Supt Mugonda sang from the same hymn book, pleading with anyone who might have information that might bring the matter to finality to come forward.
“This issue is no longer a Murehwa issue, but it is now a national issue, so if there is anyone out there who might have any information that might help us locate the boy’s head, please let them come forward.”
Tinei, the traditional healer, said no one, not even the police, had approached him to give his side of the story but had nothing to hide.
“It is just pure coincidence that I happened to be at the village the same week this murder occurred, otherwise I am prepared to go back to the village to clear my name.”
Of the two Tapiwas’ sharing the same name, Mr Munyaradzi Makore said it was pure coincidence that they gave their son the name of his cousin, and that they did not give him the name as an honour to Tapiwa Senior.
“True, we once stayed with him (Tapiwa Senior) in Mufakose for some four months. At the time, I had separated with my wife and during the course of reuniting, we had this son, and we were just elated that we had been blessed with a son, as our first-born was a girl. So we named him Tapiwa. It had nothing to do with my cousin.” The Sunday Mail