Brothers spared death after killing confessed ‘witch’

A Chipinge teenage boy and his brother were on Wednesday slapped with prison sentences of 10 and 12 years respectively for murdering a 53-year-old woman over alleged witchcraft.

Dhanai (17) and Farai Gapara (22) were convicted of murder with constructive intent when they appeared before High Court judge Francis Bere in Mutare.

The brothers are nephews to the deceased Jennifer Sharikira (53) whom they blamed of misfortunes that had befallen their family.

In his submission, Farai said Sharikira confessed to him that she was bewitching him because he had failed to give her groceries when he returned from South Africa some time back.

Extenuating factors saved the pair from the death penalty after the judge agreed that the brothers might have been infuriated by the alleged admission of witchcraft by Sharikira.

Presenting the State case, prosecutor Jane Matsikidze told the court that on December 12 2010 the two brothers went to the deceased’s homestead wielding sticks.

They dragged Sharikira outside her hut and started assaulting her with the sticks and booted feet.
The intervention of Sharikira’s daughter, Irene and neighbours was fruitless as the two brothers continued assaulting the elderly woman.

She died a few hours later.

The post-mortem revealed that Sharikira had died as a result of deep cuts on her head and of general body swelling.

In passing sentence Bere noted that the belief in witchcraft was prevalent in Chipinge and the pair might have been angered by Sharikira’s confession that she was responsible for their misfortunes.

He however said the pair had no right to kill and a jail term was appropriate.

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