Belief in witchcraft sees man who killed ‘goblin’ woman acquitted


A MAN from Nkayi who brutally axed a mentally ill woman he suspected to be a goblin, has been acquitted.

Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere, who is on circuit in Hwange, acquitted Sibangilizwe Moyo (43) of Tunke Village of a murder charge in connection with the death of Sithembiso Tshuma who was aged 31 when the incident happened in 2012.

Moyo axed Tshuma to death after she emerged from the darkness and blocked his way before attempting to strangle him.

In his judgment, Justice Bere ruled that Moyo fell victim to a belief in witchcraft that is largely entrenched in most societies.

“The belief in witchcraft is rampant especially for those who are accustomed to Nigerian films and, of course Zimbabwe is no exception to this frightening belief. There is evidence that his (Moyo) brother, who claimed that he is a Christian, still believes in goblins,” said Justice Bere.

“You spilled blood from a family and the court urges you to address the matter in accordance with their belief and customs.”

Prosecuting, Ms Namatirai Ngwasha said on November 7, 2012, at around 9PM, Moyo was with his brother Mkhululi and his son, Brian. They were travelling from Samasi Village, Zenka area in Nkayi in an ox-drawn scotch-cart.

“Moyo was leading the oxen while Mkhululi and his son were seated in the cart,” said Ms Ngwasha.

She said that along the way, Tshuma unexpectedly appeared from the darkness and grabbed Moyo by the neck before the two wrestled. Mkhululi and Brian jumped out of scotch-cart and fled into the bush leaving Moyo at the mercy of the “goblin.”

Moyo struck the deceased twice on the head using an axe and she fell to the ground and died on the spot.

The trio fled from the scene and sought overnight accommodation at a nearby homestead belonging to Mr Vincent Tshuma where Moyo narrated his ordeal.

The following morning, villagers found the deceased’s body on the road and they tracked the tyre marks which led them to Mr Tshuma’s homestead.

Moyo was then told by the local village head that he had actually killed a mental patient.

When Moyo took to the witness stand yesterday, he said when they spotted Tshuma alongside the road, she looked like a goblin.

“I was in front of the ox-drawn scotch-cart leading the way when I saw an unusual object in the middle of the road. The upper part of the body was white while the lower part was not clear. It was short in stature, which subsequently made me suspect that it was a goblin,” said Moyo.

He said the “strange creature” jumped and grabbed him by the neck and they wrestled while his brother and his son watched from a distance.

“We wrestled with the strange creature and I was carrying an axe, which I used to strike it twice and it fell down,” he said.
Moyo, in his defence through his lawyer, Mr Knowledge Dingani of Mlweli Ndlovu and Associates, said it was not his intention to kill Tshuma.

He argued that he mistook the woman for a goblin and acted in self defence after he was provoked.

According to postmortem results, the cause of Tshuma’s death was brain damage, compound skull fracture and homicide.

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