A few weeks ago the death of a zezuru woman who doused herself with paraffin and set herself ablaze left many people in Francistown wondering as to what pushed the young mother of five children to painfully end her life.
A Voice reporter who attended the funeral recorded the below conversation.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: I request all people to come close, we are about to start our service.(shouting) come closer please we are way behind time.
BROTHER TO THE DECEASED: As a family we have agreed that there will be no viewing of the body…..(murmurs from the mourners)
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Silence please! We all know our mother died in an usual and cruel manner. She is in a bad state.
BROTHER TO THE DECEASED: We believe the state she in does not allow for body viewing. But more importantly we wont allow picture taking for social media .
We have suffered enough. Our wish is to simply bury and mourn her death in peace.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Because our sister ended her life, according to the teachings by our leader we won’t sing hymns or preaching. But go straight into the speeches.
I call on the son of the deceased, who was present the night our mother took her life.
SON IN BLACK JERSEY: I was woken up by screams and people shouting.
When I stepped outside into the night, I thought people had caught a thief only to find a person in a ball of fire.
I rushed to find out who it was, but because of the blaze I couldn’t see clearly who it was. (murmurs from the crowd)
SON CONTINUES: I rushed to my mother’s bedroom, the door was wide open and my mother was not there but my siblings were fast asleep in her bed.
The room was smelling of paraffin and the floor was wet.
It could only mean she had poured the petrol on herself while in her room, before going outside and setting herself alight.
With the help of neighbours we managed to put out the fire.
She was burnt. I rushed her to hospital, were she was admitted.
After a day she passed away.
WHISPERS FROM THE MOURNERS: Where was the husband when all this was happening?
HEFTY OLD MAN: I am the father-in-law to the woman before us. I got a call from my son to tell me that my daughter- in- law had set herself on fire.
I asked my son what happened. If they had been quarrelling or fighting? His answer was all was well.
OLD HEFTY MAN: For the years that I have known my daughter-in-law, never did I hear her complain.
Even when I visited their home she always treated me with respect. Her death is a mystery.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: We shall now ask the speakers from the woman’s family to come forward and give a brief history about the deceased.
BROTHER OF THE DECEASED: The passing of our sister is still a mystery to us. And we are yet to get a satisfactory explanation from our son- in- law.
We are suspicious about her death.
Some are saying it is the Ndebele demon in her, which caused her to take her life.
But we urge our in laws to refrain from speaking ill of our sister. Such talk can incite violence!
(mourners look at each other in amazement)
BROTHER OF DECEASED: In short my sister troubles began one night when thieves broke into their house and stole among other things a trousers belonging to my brother in law.
The trousers was found the following morning with one leg cut off.
His car was broken into. Our brother in- law took the trousers, went wherever he went and was told whatever he was told.
ONE OF THE MOURNERS: (Whispers) kanti mazeruru also consult traditional doctors? And why did he go alone leaving his wife behind?
BROTHER OF DECEASED CONTINUES: When he came back he confronted his wife and demanded to know if she had anything to do with the break in and the theft of his trousers.
Our sister told him she knew nothing and was innocent.
ZEZURU MAN IN NAVY BLUE JACKET: So he suspected his wife of foul playing?( Shaking his head)
BROTHER OF DECEASED: After confronting his wife with those accusations, he drove out in his sedan and within no time he was involved in a car accident.
He confronted his wife once more and wanted to know if she had a hand in the accident
Again our sister said she was clean and knew nothing. A few days later, while he was transporting people’s cattle to the abattoir, he was involved in another accident. Killing all the cattle in the truck.
(mourners shake their heads, while others whisper about the man being bewitched)
BROTHER CONTINUES: When he arrived home he began to beat his wife. He beat her so badly and left her with terrible injuries. In the 22 years of marriage our sister has never known peace in her life.
Whenever he brought his family to our home in Bluetown, he never came out to the car.
He would drop and pick up his children without coming out of the car to greet us.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES:Calm down and listen attentively to what we are being told. What we are being told is what happened.
When we leave this home and meet our friends out there, tell them what you have been told. Don’t add salt and pepper
FATHER OF THE DECEASED: If I was not an evangelist in the church, I would demand 35 heads of cattle and a young girl from my in laws as compensation for the death of my daughter. I would give my in-laws five days to pay up if they didn’t want something terrible to happen to them.
ZEZURU MAN IN NAVY BLUE JACKET: (in hushed tone) so they suspect foul play and they blame the death of their daughter on the husband
FATHER OF THE DECEASED: But because I still want to preach and follow the teachings of our leader I say let us bury my daughter in peace. No matter how much we may talk or fight it will not bring her back to life.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Let us all stand as the corpse is loaded into the hearse.
A GROUP OF ZEZERU WOMEN: (whispering) but I hear this woman’s family had refused to bury their daughter until the husband paid them P12 000 just yesterday.
The body in loaded into the hearse in silence. Mourners rush into their cars and head to the cemetery in Gerald Estates