By Nyasha Dube

A MUREWA man Denford Nyamande, who was arrested for killing his 87-year-old father Felix Chiodza and 89-year-old aunt Angela Bhunu last year, has been handed a 35-year jail term by a High Court judge.

According to court papers, on March 22 last year Nyamande travelled from Dema in Seke, Mashonaland East, where he worked to Murewa and on arrival he went to his father’s homestead at Marumisa village before accusing him of bewitching him and bringing misfortune and illness in his life.

The confrontation became heated and Nyamande picked up an axe in the room, which he used to strike his father on the hand and back of the neck. After the attack, Nyamande closed the thatched hut’s door and proceeded to his aunt’s homestead in Chidziva Village where he confronted her and demanded that she remove bad spells that she cast on him.

He picked up a hoe and used it to hit her on the head until the hoe’s handle broke. In mitigation, Nyamande denied intentionally killing his father and aunt, arguing that the attacks were accidental. He further argued that he only committed the crimes out of self-preservation as he believed the two were bewitching him, resulting in his ill-health.

“On 22 March 2021, I left Dema going to our rural home in Murewa. I arrived at our rural home and proceeded to the deceased’s (Chiodza) home. I talked to him concerning my sickness, but he insisted he did not know anything,” he told the court.

“During that time we had an altercation and I got angry. I took an axe and I struck him once on the left hand and twice on the head. He then fell in that kitchen and I left him there since there was no one around,” he told the court.

High Court judge, Justice Lucy Mungwari sentenced Nyamande to 35 years in prison for both counts, ruling that the attacks were coldhearted and unsympathetic. “In aggravation, however, we considered that there were callous murders of two defenceless octogenarians.

Not just any octogenarians, however, his blood relatives, his 87-year-old father and his father’s 89-year-old sister. The savagery and barbarism of the attack was absolute. “If it had not been for the significant witchcraft mitigating factor, the accused would have been a suitable candidate for capital punishment.

However, the aggravating circumstances considered with the mitigating factors leave us to arrive at the finding that the following sentence is appropriate in the circumstances, both counts as one for purposes of sentencing: 35 years imprisonment.”