Fugitive arsonist nabbed on return for Xmas holiday


Walter Mswazie, Masvingo Correspondent
A 29-YEAR-OLD man from Masvingo who accused his aunt of practising witchcraft, set her bedroom hut on fire destroying property worth about $2,400 and fled to South Africa.

Tonderai Mapfumo, 29, of Macharaga village under Chief Mapanzure pleaded guilty to malicious damage to property when he appeared before Masvingo provincial magistrate Langton Ndokera.

He was sentenced to an effective 10 months in prison but will serve an effective ffive months after five months were conditionally suspended.

Ndokera said Mapfumo deserved a deterrent sentence due to the gravity of the offence.

“You deserve a stiffer sentence because you decided to take the law into your own hands over a debatable issue like witchcraft which is hard to prove. After committing the crime you fled to South Africa as a way of evading arrest. You mustn’t solve disputes by destroying people’s homes,” said Ndokera.

Prosecuting, Rameki Gosha, told the court that on February, 21 last year at around 3AM, Mapfumo was coming from a beer drink when he decided to go to the homestead of Esther Tau, 35, of the same village and found her asleep.

“Upon his arrival at Tau’s homestead, Mapfumo knocked at the door and started accusing her of being a witch, claiming that she was casting bad spells on him. He then ordered her to come out of the bedroom hut as he wanted to set it on fire,” said Gosha.

The court heard that, Tau did not take Mapfumo seriously and remained inside.

Mapfumo then set alight the thatched hut and when Tau realised that the hut was on fire and caving in, she stormed out of the hut.

She attempted to put out the fire to no avail.

All the property inside the hut including chairs, bed and wardrobe were destroyed.

A report was made to the police.

Mapfumo fled to South Africa and was arrested in December last year when he returned home for Christmas.

The value of destroyed property was $2,464.

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