A 34-YEAR-OLD mentally challenged man from Lower Gweru allegedly strangled his mother with his bare hands before fatally axing two neighbours in grisly murders which have shocked villagers.
Villagers teamed up to subdue Macala Tavengwa Chituso after the gruesome killings on Wednesday at around 2PM.
Macala of Mafusini village, Headman Nyama, Chief Sogwala, Lower Gweru — who is now in police custody — had made a hit list of six people he wanted to kill, according to villagers.
He had managed to kill his mother Julia Chituso (74), Emily Moyo (72) and Nancy Moyo (54) who are sisters, at the time of his arrest.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed Mafusini village when The Chronicle visited the area yesterday.
Villagers had divided themselves into two groups to console grieving families at the funeral wakes.
Mr Collen Moyo, a villager and brother-in-law to Nancy and Emily, said Macala — who has a previous conviction of malicious damage to property after axing three beasts belonging to a villager — was a troubled soul who should have been admitted to a mental institution.
“He met Nancy and struck her on the centre of the head with an axe before striking Emily just above the right ear. Both died on the spot,” said Mr Moyo.
“He then went after a herdboy brandishing the bloodied axe. He was shouting that he had killed three people including his mother and wanted to kill three more.”
Mr Moyo said Macala told villagers he killed his mother because she refused to give him food.
“He said he killed the others over personal issues,” he added.
Mr Khemesi Tshuma, the village head, said they were in mourning and everyone was shocked by the grisly murders.
He said Nancy’s brains were splattered on the ground while Emily’s face was almost divided into two parts.
“I’ll never forget the hair-raising sight of the bodies for as long as I live,” Mr Khemesi said.
Macala’s uncle, Mr Ignatious Chituso, said the family had taken him to traditional healers and the hospital for his mental condition, to no avail.
He said they even engaged the police about Macala’s violent tendencies before the court gave him community service.
“The community didn’t want him. He kept weapons and was violent. It’s a pity innocent lives have been lost,” Mr Chituso said.
He said the community was worried that Macala would be given bail and come back to kill the other three villagers he had targeted.
A police report read: “The bodies of the three deceased persons were conveyed to Gweru Provincial Hospital mortuary awaiting postmortem.
Investigations into the matter are in progress.”
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko said police were investigating the incident.
On July 5, Gweru Magistrate Ms Florence Nago convicted Macala of malicious damage to property and sentenced him to eight months in prison for axing three head of cattle belonging to a villager
Two months were suspended on condition of good behaviour while a further five months were suspended on condition he performed 175 hours of community service.
His uncle said Macala only performed 16 hours at a local clinic before refusing to complete the sentence.
Last month, a mental patient in Tsholotsho allegedly butchered a six-year-old Grade One pupil before ripping his stomach with a knife. He then guarded the corpse.
The killings come at a time when the biggest mental hospital in Matabeleland, Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo, is facing a critical shortage of medicines for both its in and outpatients.
Three nurses have been attacked by patients this year as patients go without sedatives.
Officials at Ingutsheni Central Hospital say the drug shortage has resulted in unsustainable cases of outpatients relapsing and needing re-admission to the crowded institution.