Community Demands Justice: Calls for Further Action Following Tapiwa Makore Verdict in Child Ritual Murder Case

By Phillipa Jaja

“It is painful that the murderers had to be my relatives, my brother actually.

“Tinopesaniswa hukama nekuda kwezvisina basa zvekuda kuromba.”

Munyaradzi, Tapiwa Makore’s father was betrayed by family in an unimaginable manner.

With his son killed by his brother for ritual purposes, he remains a haunted man grateful for the justice system which finally delivered a guilty verdict for his son’s murderer, Tafadzwa Shamba and a guilty as an accomplice verdict to his brother and the mastermind, Tapiwa Makore.

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However, his family is still vexed about Tapiwa’s missing which may never be found.

Tapiwa Makore’s verdict and the missing head have sparked a larger national conversation about justice for children killed for ritual purposes in Zimbabwe.

Child ritual victims

Tapiwa’s murder opened up a Pandora box of child murders in Zimbabwe fueled by traditional healers who require certain body parts for money ritual processes.

The publicity invited a scrutiny of the often acknowledged case of child ritual murders which are carefully interwoven into the country’s cultural seams and fast becoming a common practice because of the need for quick ill-gotten wealth.

The results are agonisingly painful and elicit fear for parents who previously used to rate the country as child safety proof.

For apart from Tapiwa’s gruesome murder, in which the killers were chastened for preying on the child “like butchers on a slaughtered beast,” according to Justice Munamato Mutevedzi, many worse similar stories have been recounted.

On the 4th of December, 2020, eight year old Trevor Mpashike from Masocha Village under chief Zimuto was murdered by his uncle Clever Chitiga who after allegedly beheading him, shaved his head in hot water and pounded it using a hoe handle and pestle before boiling the result in a cooking pot, preparing it for consumption.

He went on to dump the rest of the body in a nearby dam after wrapping it with a mosquito net.

The gruesome murder happened when the boy, who was in Grade 2 at Matova Primary School had sought shelter from heavy rains at Chitiga’s home.

Four months later, seven year old Dylan and his cousin Melissa Benza from Sambaza Village in Nyanga were also murdered for suspected ritual purposes. The two cousins went missing in April 2021 on their way from school and their bodies were found in an abandoned house in the village, along the road children in the area use every day to walk to school, with deep cuts on their necks.

Two man who live in the village were arrested in connection to the murder of the Benza children are held in custody pending trial.

On the 22nd of September 2022, the body of a six year old Early Childhood Development (ECD) pupil, Zvikomborero Gumedhe from Mabwematema under Chief Hwedza in Zvishavane was found in the Mabwematema mountains with no clothes on, two days after she had gone missing whilst on her way back from school.

Community justice for Tapiwa

The community has been most vocal following Tapiwa Makore’s death in 2021 as it rallied for his justice through social media.

And public discourse still rages after the verdict delivered on Thursday.

Various ranging interviews with Harare residents done by this publication revealed a need to dig deeper so as to get to the bottom of the missing head, the need to prosecute n’angas behind ritual proclamations involving children and the common sympathy people have for the Makore family.

A Ruwa resident who only identified himself as Tapiwa said finding the missing head was fundamental to properly carry out Tapiwa’s burial.

“My issue is the missing head. That is all. As a parent, I know that Tapaiwa’s family would need it to properly wrap up the burial rites.

“Where in the world had you heard of a family finding rest without knowing when they son’s head is missing. It is impossible! Therefore it should be looked into.”

Lisa Machona of Waterfalls said no amount of justice would replace Tapiwa.

“I want to commend the Judge for delivering that verdict.

“However, as a mother my fear is that no justice will ever be enough for his family for they have lost a son. My heart bleeds for them.

Joshua Nhuchana of Kuwadzana said traditional healers behind ritual proclamations driving children’s murders should be purged.

“I commend the Judge. He did well. In that same vein, I propose that there be amendments to whichever system will identify traditional healers as the sole authors behind these ritual processes taking our children’s lives.

“Tapiwa’s case is one too many of the horrendous stories we hear every day of children’s decapitated, raped and tortured bodies due to the n’angas’ insolence.

“They know they are untouchable hence go on a ritual spree causing the killings of innocent children even of people born with albinism.

“It is high time they get arrested,” he fumed.

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