Fidelis Munyoro-Chief Court Reporter
A CHIVHU woman, Emelda Marizani, will next week be sentenced for one of the most ghastly crimes imaginable, slaying all her four daughters at the height of a marital wrangle.
The court convicted Marizani of four counts of murder, finding that she had long planned the murders to spite her husband whom she accused of infidelity.
Marizani poisoned her four children and when she assumed they might not die, took a knife and slit their throats one-by-one.
She then gulped the same poison trying to commit suicide, but survived.
During trial, Marizani denied the murders and proffered a defence of diminished responsibility, but this could not be sustained as a doctor who examined her found her to be of stable mind.
In a judgment delivered yesterday, Justice Munamato Mutevedzi convicted Marizani of all the counts of murder after the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
During trial, the woman struck the court as a fearless and a somewhat cold-hearted person as she never shed tears to express emotional trauma.
“Admittedly, a mother can kill her child but to kill four of them, one after another in such cold-blooded manner typifies a woman who had a determined resolve to achieve her selfish purpose,” said Justice Mutevedzi.
The gory pictures that were tendered in court depicted the state of the children’s bodies in death. Their throats were slit open and bloody. Two of them appeared like they were tied together with a cord. The other two’s bodies were completely charred.
In convicting Marizani, Justice Mutevedzi found that the totality of evidence before the court concluded that she failed to prove on a balance of probabilities that she was mentally ill at the time she killed her children.
It was also the court’s finding that Marizani’s evidence in her statement to the police and her oral testimony before the court was materially contradicted, while the medical evidence she submitted was unreliable.
However, the judge found that, on its part the prosecution adduced sufficient evidence supported by the medical testimony of Doctor Patrick Mhaka which disproved Marizani’s defence of mental disorder at the critical time.
“It is on this basis that we are convinced that the State managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” said Justice Mutevedzi. “Accordingly, the accused is found guilty of four counts of murder as charged.”
Justice Mutevedzi, who took a straight four hours reading his judgment, said when Marizani started feeling helpless in her marriage she decided that she was not going to die living her children behind and literally “slaughtered” them.
This, the judge said, she did as a result of misguided love that if she could not look after her children no one could.
The judge also alluded to the mental order principles explaining that Marizani’s actions, which spoke to the mental disorders were usually inexplicable. In this case, however, all her actions were explicable.
They were explainable on the basis of the acrimony which existed between the woman and her husband Lameck, given the bitterness she harboured against her husband’s mistresses, particularly one Chelsea who seemed the most likely candidate to succeed her as Lameck’s wife.
In her oral evidence. Marizani who is being represented by Ms Gamuchirai Muchapireyi and Ms Chiedza Tsikira of Tsikira Muchapireyi Corporate Attorneys, admitted in her statement and oral evidence to killing her children to spite her husband.
She said she wanted to die living nothing from the things the couple acquired together and Justice Mutevedzi said in essence, she employed a “scorched earth approach”, but unfortunately considered her children to be part of those acquisitions.
The court’s view, however, was supported by Marizani’s conduct after the killings when she set the house on fire with the children’s bodies inside.
She then went to the police station to hand herself over.
The court, however, wondered whether indeed Marizani wanted to commit suicide. “If she did, as she alleges, she had all the opportunity to do so without hindrance, said Justice Mutevedzi.
“She did not make as sure of her death as she did with those of her children. She gave herself an opportunity for survival putting paid to her claim that she desparately wanted to die with her children.
“She excuses her failure to die with the claim that she could not find a wire to hang herself with. Yet she could have used anything other than a wire to hang herself. Alternatively, she could have left herself to be consumed by the inferno she started inside the house. She did not take any of the options. She was clearly afraid of the fire she describes as ferocious.”
To this end, it was the court’s finding that she simply used the children as pawns in the matrimonial wrangle.
“In the process, she callously murdered them in her moronic belief that by doing so she would get even with her husband and his mistresses.”
Given the graphic details, precisely explaining what transpired until she killed her children, it was difficulty for the court to accept Marizani’s contention that she did not appreciate the wrongfulness of her conduct.
In her defence outline, Marizani claimed that she was psychotic, and in an abusive marriage, and that her husband had countless illicit affairs, while he also scorned her for bearing girls.
Prosecutor Mr Teddy Kamuriwo appeared for the State