By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Last week in Chitungwiza Zengeza 3 the Police recovered a decomposing body from ahome. Again a man who was physically and visibly traumatised was retrieved from the ceiling of the house. The man identified only as Grant was taken away in handcuffs by police as his father’s decomposed body was wheeled to a Nyaradzo minibus.
The dead man is said to have been last seen by neighbours over 12 years ago died in his Zengeza home in Harare and his wife did not inform police.
The woman, identified only as gogo Mahlahla, was taken by the police. When investigators arrived at the house, they heard movements in the ceiling and when they went up, they found an emaciated 39-year-old man identified only as Grant, who is the couple’s son.
Speaking to reporters, Mahlahla painted a picture of a dysfunctional family as she claimed a secret battle with evil spirits.
She said married her husband in 1992 and he suffered a stroke shortly after, forcing him to use a wheelchair.
“I joined church after discovering that evil spirits were haunting my family,” she told H-Metro. “My husband refused to accompany me to church to receive prophecies about our family.”
Mahlahla claimed that her son who was hauled from the ceiling was a “possessed man.”
“They told me in church that he has evil spirits. He has destroyed everything in the house – geyser, radio and TV,” Mahlahla claimed.
The case exposes the challenges Zimbabwe has with stereotype.
The people quickly declared that gogo Mahlahla was a witch and that Grant was a tokolosh being used by gogo. Our people do lack compassion and have become devils chanting Vitriol on the weak and sick.
People must learn to defer judgement until they have all the facts avoiding abounding generalised conclusions. We must not jump to conclusions in cases we are not privy to.
People must put themselves in the shoes of their victims.
If we all put ourselves in the shoes of this Gogo Mahlahla. She faced more than ava rage life in her life She had to endure a prolonged sickness of her husband without support. It is draining to care for a sick relative who is incontinent.
Zimbabwe has no formal respite service where struggling families can be assisted.
While we do have strong support from family members,sometimes if not always we are let down by those we expect to lift us.
Gogo Mahlahla from Zengeza 3 had a continuous care of her husband without respite, this has led to mental breakdown leading to mental health problems paranoia and insanity.
In this particular case this is an old woman who never got immediate support. There are no structures of respite in Zimbabwe. The traditional structures failed her. She is from Gwanda and planted in Chitungwiza. Any family members are in Gwanda and the Children are abroad doing nothing about their parents back home. This situation is likely to lead one to mental breakdown and this took a heavy toll on her mental and physical health.
The menacing crowds lacked compassion.
Compassion means put yourself in your victim’s shoe. Gogo Mahlahla is a victim of our broken society.
This reminds me of a sad story which was heard before JusticeGarainesu Mawodza in Gweru A young girl of 13 was impregnated by her uncle. While she was still pregnant her mother dies. She was subjected to abuse by her other uncle and aunties. She had no support at all. She gave birth at the age of 13.
She then developed mental health issue she then threw the baby in a river. She was arrested and spent a year in custody without trial.
When she was finally tried and convicted the judge in sentencing her asked her to stand up. He told her that he the judge,will walk out when he is completely out of the courtroom the accused would have finished her sentence. The judge was making a statement that human life is sanctity and it must not be trivialised. The small girl was a victim of self righteous evil family.
We have to be a compassionate nation. We must live without stereotypes. We must understand mental health issues.
It is clear that in Zimbabwe old people are not protected. Once you get old you are declared a witch.
A ninety five year old woman would wonder from Home. She developed dementia which made her move out of the house and get lost. Each time she would wonder away and end up in people’s houses who will accuse her of being a witch. She was demented but accused of witchcraft simply because we do not understand old age and we hate the old.
The old the mental health sufferers are victimised.
It is said that the civilisation of a nation is measured by the way it treats those who are vulnerable not those who are strong.
If we have no compassion on mental health people we are not civilised.
The state is measured by the way it treats the minority not the majority. The way you treat the mentally incapacitated sick and poor reflects your civilisation.
The country needs to be re-educated on witchcraft.
We now social media YouTube TV stations varying programmes of accusing people of witchcraft.
In Domboshava a sick and mentally derailed man was paraded on camera accused of having a snake which he sleeps with. The mindset of our people is inherently cultured into witchcraft that many families have been broken.
People should be responsible and be ca
Go Mahlahla of ZENGEZA 3 must be given help. She is sick and needs help. It is not right to parade her as a witch. We are better than that.
We should be civilised and drop this witchcraft tag on the vulnerable.
Old people get lost because they suffer from dementia. When they wonder into People’s yards they are not witches.
Our chiefs needs training on dementia and mental health. Many people have been accused and fined for a mere sickness.
The Chitungwiza saga exposes us as a people. We need to raise awareness in our people about mental health and dementia.