A Bulawayo High Court Judge has ruled that a 21-year old Gokwe man who fatally axed five people and two cows in one night was mentally ill when he committed the heinous crimes in a single night of terror in March last year and accordingly spared him a jail sentence.

Christopher Gotore of Chimombe Village, Marapira under Chief Jiri who was staying with his sister Patience Gotore  at her matrimonial home in Marangana, Lusulu in Binga went beserk on March 6 around 8pm last year after he proceeded to a neighbour Admire Nyangarai’s home armed with an axe struck him before setting a bedroom hut on fire.

Nyangarai’s wife Bibeat Munsaka (23) fled with her daughter Loice Compassion Nyangarai aged one year on her back but Gotore gave chase and struck them dead in a maize field.

Gotore went back home and entered a bedroom hut where he axed his sister’s seven-year-old son Shane. Another minor boy who was sleeping in the same hut was not harmed.

He came out of the hut still carrying the axe and went to where his sister and husband Mr Bruce Sibanda and aunt Chiravigwa Shumba (64) who had just arrived from Gokwe were sitting and struck Shumba twice on the neck.

Sibanda and his wife fled from the scene after failing to disarm Gotore who pursued his brother-in-law but failed to catch him.

Gotore then went to a cattle pen and axed a cow and its calf before disappearing into the night.

He was charged with five counts of murder and two others of malicious damage to property following the death of the five people, burning of hut and killing of two cows.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese who is on circuit in Hwange said the murder was bizarre.

“This is one of the most gruesome and bizarre murders as the accused went on a killing rampage. The victims were related to him and there is no explanation for his behaviour.

“Evidence in court showed he suffered mild mental retardation from induced substance abuse. He tendered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and from the evidence in court we are satisfied and find him not guilty of the multiple murders and malicious damage to property for reason of insanity in terms of Section 29 of the Mental Health Act. The accused must be returned to prison pending transfer to Mlondolozi Mental Health Institution as he is a danger to society,” said Justice Makonese.

When he was asked the reason for him to commit the crime, the murder convict did not respond and kept facing downwards on the floor.

Gotore even said he did not understand the judgement that had been passed.

Martha Cheda prosecuted.


state media/Zwnews