A PROPHET who caused the death of a four-year old dumb girl from Bulawayo after prescribing a herbal concoction purportedly to help her gain speech has been sentenced to a wholly suspended prison term.
Senzeni Jiyane (61) of Makokoba suburb was jointly charged for murder together with the deceased’s mother, Lindiwe Ncube (38) of Mzilikazi suburb.
They were however acquitted of murder and convicted of a lesser charge of culpable homicide by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa.
The two were both sentenced to four years in jail each, wholly suspended for five years on condition that each one of them does not within that period commit a similar crime.
In passing the sentence, Justice Mabhikwa warned faith healers against experimenting with people’s lives, saying the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of human life.
“These courts, however, and as usual, will not condone the loss of life that was so special. Traditional healers, faith healers and prophets alike will better be warned that the courts will not look aside as they at times experiment with people’s lives,” he said.
Justice Mabhikwa said the courts do not condone acts of negligence which result in loss of life.
“In casu, the child could not communicate effectively as she was dumb and the accused persons should have taken extra precaution. Negligence that leads to the death of a human being, let alone a child, will not be tolerated and both accused persons are each sentenced to four years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years,” ruled the judge.
Prosecuting, Mr Blessing Gundani said on March 5 last year, Ncube took her daughter Thabile Ncube, who was dumb, to Jiyane’s shrine for healing.
Upon arrival at the shrine, they found Jiyane conducting prayer sessions.
Ncube approached Jiyane seeking assistance for her daughter. As part of her healing, Jiyane prepared a mixture of salt, two eggs, water and an unidentified herb to serve the child.
“Jiyane prayed for the deceased’s healing after which she then prepared a concoction of eggs, salt and water and the accused person gave the child the concoction to drink,” said Mr Gundani.
The court heard that after drinking the concoction for two days, the child started screaming and bleeding from the mouth and nose.
Ncube then took her daughter to Mpilo Central Hospital where she died at the Paediatrics Casualty ward three days later.
According to the post mortem report the cause of death was aspiration pneumonitis and concoction ingestion.
A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of the two accused persons.