A 47 year old man stands accused of fatally strangling his one-year-old stepdaughter yesterday morning while his mother was away fetching water from a nearby borehole, in a horrifying incident that has left the residents of Gweru deeply shocked.
The alleged crime unfolded at residence number 720 in Mkoba 4, a suburb of Gweru.
According to Mr. Tinei Machaka, a neighbor, the unsettling incident began when they were awakened around 5 am by the piercing screams of Lian Phiri (35), the mother of the now-deceased Keila Tshuma.
“We were in our slumber when we were startled by Phiri’s anguished cries, prompting us to rush to her house, where we found her clutching her lifeless baby, accusing her husband of strangling the child to death,” he recounted.
Mr. Machaka further explained that a passing police officer, who had just finished his night shift, was alerted to the commotion, leading to the immediate apprehension of the alleged perpetrator, Itai Tichagwa.
“The informant is the biological mother of the deceased child, while the accused is the stepfather. The three of them resided together at house number 720 in Mkoba 4, Gweru,” stated the police in an official release.
According to law enforcement, the events unfolded as follows: around 5 am that morning, Phiri, her husband, and the deceased’s half-brother Joseph (5) were reportedly sleeping in their rented room.
Phiri left to fetch water at a nearby borehole, leaving the now-deceased and her half-brother in the care of the accused. At that time, the child appeared healthy and showed no signs of illness,” the police stated.
Shortly after Phiri’s departure, Tichagwa allegedly sent Joseph out to purchase matches and instructed him not to return until he had procured them.
“Phiri returned hours later to find Tichagwa holding the now-deceased, instructing her to breastfeed the child,” as per the police statement.
Phiri is said to have discovered her daughter in great distress, and she began screaming, alerting neighbors to her husband’s alleged crime.
“The loud cries from the informant reached the ears of a patrolling police officer, who promptly apprehended the accused and alerted ZRP Mkoba,” the police reported.
Officers from Mkoba 1 station were called to the scene, where they found the deceased child lying on her back, covered with a bedsheet.
“The child’s neck exhibited significant mobility, suggesting a possible act of strangulation,” the statement read.
Police further disclosed that Tichagwa allegedly confessed to the murder of his stepdaughter.