When mother turned murderer
Nyunyuto Mabhiza (right) and her daughters-in-law Talent Wapendama and Berita seated at their homestead in Nago village
To villagers in Nemarundwi communal lands in Zimuto, June 9, 2014 will always remain etched in their memories.
A day that started just like any other ordinary one turned into infamy after a woman poisoned herself and three children.The setting of the tragedy was Nago village where villagers are still in shock after Angeline Mabhiza (31) forced her two children, Taurai (6) and Farai (one year six months), together with her sister’s child Linos Musundamabwe (6) to drink water laced with a cotton pesticide.
The four vomited profusely after taking the concoction and by the time villagers arrived at the Mabhiza homestead following a distress call by pupils on their way home from the nearby Nemarundwi Primary School, Angeline and the three juveniles lay helpless on the ground, frothing at the mouth.
At around 2pm, Angeline, Farai and Linos lay lifeless in front of the stunned villagers while Taurai later succumbed to the pesticide at Masvingo General Hospital.
Farai, Taurai and Angeline were buried at the Mabhiza homestead while Linos was buried in Zaka.
Born in 1982 to a former soldier, the late Shadrach Mabhiza who died in 2002 and Mrs Nyunyuto Mabhiza (55), Angeline was the only girl in a family of four but never married despite bearing four children with different fathers.
Besides Farai and Taurai, Angeline was also mother to an 11-year-old pupil at Nemarundwe and another girl who reportedly disappeared after the mother allegedly became mentally ill.
She was, however, rescued by relatives in Gweru in 2000.
Angeline’s mother Nyunyuto says she is pained that her daughter killed herself and the little children.
She says she will never forgive her daughter, especially after forcing the family to accept her off-springs from different fathers.
“We never received Angeline’s lobola despite the fact that she fell pregnant four times by different men whose identity we never knew. I stayed with Angeline here and all her children were conceived while she was here but we never knew the men who were responsible.
“After my husband died I accepted my daughter and her children. I even paid fees for the children but I was shocked when I heard that Angeline had committed suicide and killed the children. I will never forgive her even in death because she had already caused me a lot of suffering by just bearing children and burdening me by looking after them,’’ the distraught Mrs Mabhiza said.
She added that prior to her death Angeline never showed signs of any problems.
“The deaths caught me by surprise. I was in Masvingo city when I received a call from neighbours that my daughter and her children had died from poisoning. One thing for sure is that if I were around I would have also killed myself because I could never have stood the sight of seeing four corpses.
“Angeline and the children drank water that had been laced with cotton pesticide that we kept in our granary. The pesticide was hidden inside and had been there for almost two months,” she said.
Mrs Mabhiza, however, said she suspects that the Mabhiza family is haunted by an evil spirit that she blames for a streak of misfortunes hitting them.
“I strongly suspect that there is more to it than meets the eye. While I am not of the Mabhiza clan I urge them to consult traditional healers or prophets to find what it is that is causing misfortunes because every year there is always a string of unexplained deaths,” she added.
Mrs Mabhiza said her family was also at the receiving end of misfortunes in the past even before her husband died.
She says her son Phillip was struck by lightning in 1992.
“The lightning first struck a granary where Phillip, who came after Angeline, was standing and killed him on the spot before striking a tree just outside the yard and the scars of that strike are still visible up today.
“As a daughter-in-law, I cannot tell the Mabhiza family members what to do but I think there is something terribly wrong that needs some cleansing,” she said.
Her daughter-in-law, Mrs Berita Gapare concurred, saying she suspects that something is amiss within the Mabhiza family.
“My aunt (Angeline) was a very jovial person and never showed any signs of a person who was stressed. She was a hard worker who was always smiling and I was shocked to learn that she had killed herself and the children and I strongly believe there is an evil spirit haunting the family,” she said.
Mrs Talent Wapendama (23) who is Mrs Mabhiza’s other daughter-in-law also echoed the same sentiments, saying there was urgent need to cleanse the Mabhiza family of evil spirits causing misfortunes, deaths and strife.
“My aunt (Angeline) had actually turned to God. She was a member of the Mwazha Apostolic Church where she was seeking a fresh start after becoming mentally ill at one stage. I was shocked to learn that she had killed herself, I never expected it,” said Mrs Wapendama.
Village head, Mr Dzingirai Nago said he had never witnessed a tragedy like that ever since assuming the village headmanship in 2000.
“I think it is a bad omen, a sign that something is not well within the Mabhiza family. They must open their eyes and do something. I am 84-years-old and I have never witnessed such a tragedy. I have been summoned by Headman Nemarundwi, as the village head to explain what happened before his court. I will be going there soon together with Mrs Mabhiza,” he said.
With the dust slowly settling in Nemarundwi following the tragedy that struck the Mabhiza family, villagers are waiting with bated breath wondering what sort of misfortune will hit again.