Farai Kuvirimirwa Herald Reporter
Villagers and pupils in Mhondoro-Mubaira are living in fear following a spate of suspected ritual killings that have taken place over the past few months. The attacks on pupils took place in Murowa village under Chief Nyamweda in December 2013 and last week 16-year-old Moreblessing Murove was fatally axed and her body parts were mutilated in another suspected case of ritual murder.
Last December, Sharon Chimatira (9) escaped with deep wounds on her throat after a man allegedly pounced on her before he fled upon noticing people had seen him.
Ronald Mugari is appearing in court charged with attempted murder of Chimatira but villagers allege that only members of the neighbourhood watch committee had been conducting investigations.
They expressed fear in the manner investigations were carried out.
Mugari is out on bail further compounding the villagers’ fears.
When The Herald visited the village last week, primary and secondary school pupils could be seen fleeing from vehicles that were passing by.
In an interview, the late Moreblessing’s relatives expressed dismay at the manner the police were conducting investigations.
“She left for school on Wednesday but was found dead in a ditch the following day with three deep wounds on her face. Her pants were lowered, her eye was gorged out, an index finger was cut off and she did not have another ear.
“Police officers are not giving us any assistance since she was killed and we have suspects but they are not taking any action. There was no blood where she was found and her face was lying downwards with her exercise books placed under her face,” said her mother Mrs Pauline Murove.
She queried that several days have passed and no one has been arrested in connection with the murder.
“We have suspects (names supplied) and we continue asking if they are doing anything about the murder but all they have done is to dispatch a team of neighbourhood police officials who clearly cannot do much in terms of investigations,” she said.
Mhondoro-Mubaira legislator Cde Sylvester Nguni expressed concern over the slow pace of investigations.
“The most worrying thing is that this has occurred many times and we expect law enforcers to exert efforts and avoid recurrence of the same issue again. We expect police officers to leave no stone unturned but that is not the case.
“We tried talking to senior authorities but nothing has been done. Churches and traditional leadership should educate people that success is a result of hard work and not killing each other,” he said.
Mashonaland West provincial police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara said one suspect has been arrested in connection with the case.
“A suspect was arrested on Tuesday evening in connection with the murder and he is currently in police custody. He is assisting us with investigations and will appear in court soon.
“People might not understand what has been done due to lack of communication but we encourage anyone with a complaint to report directly to us if they are not satisfied with what is being done,” he said.
Meanwhile, police warned villagers to be wary of criminals targeting schoolchildren for ritual murders. Insp Mabgweazara said children must walk in groups to avoid being easy targets.