Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
A MAN suffering from a mental illness stormed his aunt’s home and raped her before grabbing an axe and killing the woman’s three children, the Bulawayo High Court heard yesterday.
After Ndodana Ncube, 42, killed the children aged between five and eight, he force-marched their mother to a neighbour’s homestead where he raped another woman and returned to his father’s home to torch six huts where five family members were sleeping.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese heard this when Ncube, of Msetshane Village in Kezi, appeared before him facing 17 counts of murder, rape, kidnapping, attempted murder, malicious damage to property assault and robbery.
Ncube was, however, freed after the High Court ruled that he was mentally unstable when he committed the horrific crimes.
Justice Makonese described the crimes as gruesome and grossly inhuman. He said in the absence of a psychiatric report, Ncube would have been sent to jail for life.
The judge said Ncube was a danger to society and ordered him to be restricted to a special institution to receive medical treatment and care after passing a not guilty verdict.
Justice Makonese ruled that Ncube could not be held criminally liable for his actions as he was mentally ill at the time of committing the crime and returned a not guilty verdict because of insanity in terms of the Mental Health Act.
“Ncube has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and therefore cannot be held legally responsible for his actions,” ruled Justice Makonese.
Medical reports compiled by psychiatrists showed that Ncube was suffering from mental health problems some of which were attributed to substance and alcohol abuse.
“From the evidence given in court, Ncube was examined by psychiatrists between January 22, 2013, and October 1, 2014, and the medical report showed that he was suffering from an organic psychotic, a mental disorder related to head trauma, substance use disorder,” said Justice Makonese.
Prosecuting, Sifiso Sibanda, said on September 9, 2012, shortly after 11PM, Ncube went to his aunt’s home and knocked on the door. He persuaded her to open the door under the guise that he wanted to deliver a message from her husband who was at Maphisa Business Centre.
The court heard that when the woman opened the door, Ncube, who was wielding an axe, stormed in and ordered his aunt to strip naked after which he raped her while her children watched.
Soon after committing the crime, Ncube turned on his three cousins who were sleeping on the floor and axed them to death.
He then ordered his aunt to accompany him to a neighbour’s homestead.
“On arrival, Ncube ordered his aunt to knock on the door to the neighbour’s bedroom. When the woman opened the door, Ncube struck her with the axe handle on the shoulder and ordered her to lead him to another room where they took out another female occupant,” said Sibanda.
The court heard that Ncube force-marched the three women to his grandfather’s homestead and torched six huts where five family members were sleeping.
The occupants managed to escape the inferno and property worth more than $7,000 was destroyed.
During the same night Ncube took the three women to a bush where he raped one of them twice while the other two were watching.
A group of men found him sleeping on a hill on the following morning and apprehended him and handed him over to the police.
Pro-deo lawyer Farai Museta appeared for Ncube.