The Lusaka High Court has imprisoned a 37-year-old woman of Lusaka’s Chalala area and her daughter at the President’s pleasure for the gruesome murder of her family and friend’s children.
Justice Wilfred Muma has entered a verdict of not guilty and has detained Jenipher Mwanza and Delia Mwanza at the President’s pleasure because the two were mentally unsound when they killed six people.
However, Susan Chimfwembe, who was jointly charged with the duo, has been acquitted of murder as there is no evidence adduced by the state linking her to the offence.
Jenipher and Delia between July 28 and August 1, 2016, whilst under the influence of madness, murdered Albert Mwanza, Brian Banda, Martha Mwanza, Amos Banda, Leo Mwanza and Blessings Mwanza, who were her family members and two of Chimfwembe’s children.
The three were discovered by the police in an unfinished building in Chalala area with six corpses that had their heads chopped off laying around in a room, while two juveniles, a male and female, were tied up awaiting to be murdered.
The chopped heads of the corpses were later boiled in a big pot.Dr P. Musoni, a psychiatrist who examined the trio’s mental status following an order by justice Egpso Mwansa, discovered that Jenipher suffered from a mental disorder called schizophrenia.
He said Jenipher was remorseful for having caused the death of her three children and her husband and that she claimed to be a prophetess though she was never seen reading a bible or praying with others.
Dr Musoni certified that Chimfwembe exhibited no signs of mental illness but the psychiatric results revealed that at the time of the alleged offence, she suffered from induced delusion disorder that was transferred to her by associating with Jenipher, a primarily affected person.
He said Chimfwembe believed that Jenipher was a prophetess during the time they lived together in an unfinished building.Dr Musoni further observed that Delia was not aware of the wrongful acts due to shared psychotic disorder suffered at the time of commission of the offense.
According to the two juvenile survivers, Jenipher had tied them up in a room where she dumped corpses of her children. They said Jenipher’s husband Albert Mwanza who had returned from a drinking spree asked her about the whereabouts of their three children upon noticing that they had gone missing.
Whilst inquiring about the children, Jenipher’s other daughter, Delia approached her father whilst armed with a knife and an axe.Mwanza was overpowered by his wife and daughter to which the duo slit his throat and chopped off his fingers. They later lied to Chimfwembe that Mwanza was a satanist and that he had bewitched the children after beheading him.
The juvenile’s further explained that one of their slain brother attempted to escape upon having sight of the corpses, but Jenipher got hold of him and poured mealie meal in his eyes, mouth nose and ears and blind folded him.They said Chimfwembe was directed to sit on her son as Jenipher strangled him.
The juveniles also disclosed that later in the night, Mwanza was heard saying that one of the children was possessed by a snake and that if they did not act in time, the child would turn into a monkey.They said before their friends were murdered, Jenipher held the children tightly in her arms on the pretext that she was protecting them from evil spirits but later strangled them.
Their mother, Chimfwembe, asked Jenipher why the children were not breathing but the latter told them they were just sleeping and the spirits would resurrect them but such did not happen.Jenipher and her daughter wrapped their clothes and started chanting songs whilst naked in preparation for the murder of the last two juveniles but the children managed to escape and sought refuge at their neighbour’s home.
In his judgement, judge Muma said he cannot doubt the testimony of the juvenile survivers, as all the events ranging from the moment when Jenipher made a pronouncement that all the children in the house were to be killed up to the discovery of the dead bodies in the house. He said it cannot be a mere coincidence that Jenipher made a pronouncement of the intention to kill all the children and the eventual noise of the crying babies during the night following the pronouncement.
“This appears to me as an irresistible conclusion; Jenipher executed her intentions to kill the children in her own belief and understanding that they shall resurrect,” judge Muma said.”The pronouncement made by Jenipher to kill the children was not an innocent statement.
It was a statement which in turn hatched the gruesome killing of children and indeed her husband who was popularly known as Guy Scott.”Judge Muma said the series leading to the death of all the victims was forthrightly articulated and remained unshaken by cross-examination.
“I am satisfied that the evidence before me adequately connects Jenipher and Delia to the offense they stand charged with. I therefore enter a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and order that Jenipher and Delia be detained at the President’s pleasure,” said judge Muma.
“With respect to Chimfwembe, I have found no iota of evidence adduced by the prosecution connecting her to the commission of the offense. In any case, she was also by and large, a victim who suffered trauma of the acts of Jenipher and Delia. I therefore acquit Chimfwembe and set her at liberty forthwith.”