‘Killer siblings’ sanity questioned

via ‘Killer siblings’ sanity questioned – Sunday News Feb 20, 2016

From Walter Mswazie in Masvingo
A High Court Judge has referred two siblings from Gutu to Chikurubi Maximum Prison’s psychiatry hospital for mental examination after they allegedly strangled their mother. Trevor (18) and Loveness Mabhugu (24) of Mabhugu Village under Chief Nyamande in Gutu, Masvingo Province, exhibited signs of mental illness during commission of the crime of assaulting their sister Sunungurai (22) all over her body with an umbrella before stabbing her with a kitchen knife after which they allegedly strangled Merjury Mapiye, who was 52.

Mapiye met her fate as she attempted to restrain the two from assaulting Sunungurai. The siblings pleaded not guilty to counts of murder and attempted murder when they appeared before Justice Joseph Musakwa in circuit in Masvingo on Thursday.

Sitting with assessors Mr Samuel Mutomba and Mr Elfas Gweru, Justice Musakwa referred the pair for mental examination by two doctors after which a verdict will be met.

In his judgment, Justice Musakwa said the two’s mental state when they committed the offence leaves a lot to be desired as they cannot remember what exactly transpired.

“The court is doubting the sobriety of the two siblings during commission of the crime. All State witnesses have given similar versions over the two’s mental state that the court is left with no option but to order mental examination on them after which a verdict will be made. They have to be assessed first,” said Justice Muskawa.

When giving evidence-in-chief, Trevor, who was represented prodeo by Mr Joanise Ruvengo of Ruvengo, Maboke and Company, said he could not recount what exactly happened and he only learnt of his mother’s death after being told by police during his arrest.

He said he only remembered engaging his mother, his co-accused, Loveness and another sibling Sunungurai in prayer after they had heard mysterious human voices outside the house.

“The information to the effect that my mother died came as a shock to me and I do not know how I ended up in a prison cell at Gutu Police Camp.

“I only remember moving from the spare bedroom where I slept into the dining room after hearing mysterious voices from outside the house at night. We ended up praying as a family and cannot narrate what happened later. I was only told by a police officer at Gutu Police Camp that our mother had died and he said it is me and my sister who killed her. That was news to me,” said Trevor.

For the State, Mr Takunda Chikwati said sometime in February 2012 the seemingly mentally unstable Trevor and his sister, Loveness, allegedly killed their mother in cold blood under the pretext that she had demons that needed casting.

“On 20 February at around 7pm Sunungurai, who is the key witness, arrived home and found Trevor, Loveness and Mapiye home. Immediately after her arrival, Trevor started accusing her (Sunungurai) of being possessed by evil spirits after which he prayed for her to cast them away. Trevor then asked Sunungurai to get into the house for more prayers to which she complied,” said Mr Chikwati.

While in the house, the court heard, Trevor pushed Sunungurai to the ground while declaring: “It is time to deal ruthlessly with the evil spirits.”

The court heard that Trevor poked Sunungurai’s eyes with fingers after which Loveness joined in, took an umbrella and assaulted her all over the body. Loveness used her hands to open Sunungurai’s mouth after which Trevor took a knife and stabbed her on both cheeks and once behind the head.

The court further heard that Sunungurai screamed, drawing Mapiye’s attention as she was preparing supper in the kitchen hut, some distance from the scene.

She then approached the two intending to restrain them. Mapiye was then pushed to the ground and strangled with bare hands by the two after which one of them bit her on the left cheek

Trevor then dragged Sunungurai, who was lying in a pool of blood, outside the house where he used burning pieces of cardboard boxes to burn her back, both arms and buttocks, the court heard.

A neighbour, Mr Martin Chaputika heard the noise and went to the scene to investigate but found Mapiye already dead with Sunungurai lying in a pool of blood.

The court heard that when Mr Chaputika asked the two siblings what had happened, the pair exhibited signs of mental illness and Loveness continued to talk to herself in a high-pitched voice without making any sense.

Mr Chaputika gathered courage and effected citizen’s arrest on the pair after which he handed them over to police who attended the scene.

Sunungurai was rushed to Gutu Hospital where she was admitted while Mapiye’s body was taken to Masvingo General Hospital mortuary for postmortem.

Dr Godfrey Zimbwa conducted an autopsy after which he produced a report showing that Mapiye died of strangulation.