Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A BUSINESSMAN who killed seven people in a knife and spear rampage in Redcliff in 2021 was acquitted of murder charges after the High Court ruled that he was mentally unstable when he committed the brutal killings.
Thubelihle Kheshow (27) will, however, be restricted to a special institution to receive medical treatment after Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese passed a not guilty verdict.
The judge ruled that Kheshow could not be held legally responsible for murder as he was mentally ill at the time of committing the crime.
Justice Makonese, sitting at the Gweru High Court Circuit, yesterday returned a special verdict of not guilty to murder charges because of insanity in terms of the Mental Health Act.
“The State concedes to the fact that the accused was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of committing the offence. It is therefore, appropriate for the court to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity in terms of Section 29(2) of the Mental Health Act, Chapter 15:12,” ruled the judge.
Justice Makonese said Kheshow is a danger to society and ordered that he be taken to a mental health institution for further treatment.
“Kheshow is a danger to society as such he should be taken back to Mlondolozi Prison for further transfer to a mental health institution to continue receiving treatment for her condition,” he said.
Kheshow, who is the owner of Kheshow Investments in Redcliff, in October 2021 suddenly became mentally unstable, spearing seven neighbours to death and leaving five others hospitalised.
The deceased persons are Luck Moyo (4), Michelle Moyo (8), Xolani Sikwili (33), Lerato Sikwili (7) Mercy Savanhu (33), Lina Moyo (56), Maggie Nkiwane (85) all from Redcliff.
Prosecuting, Ms Salome Mavunganidze told the court that on October 9 in 2021 at around 2AM, Kheshow is suspected to have acted violently while at home.
He was then taken by his aunt to an Apostolic Church shrine for prayers and deliverance. While at the shrine, he became violent and began uprooting small trees and pushing stationary vehicles.
Congregants subdued him and tied him with a rope.
While church members were still asleep in the early hours of the morning, Kheshow woke up, freed himself and drove home.
He armed himself with three spears, a kitchen knife and an axe, and went to his uncle’s house where he broke down the front door to gain entry.
His uncle and other relatives escaped through the bedroom window, leaving four children and two cousins sleeping in the dining room.
They later returned home and found their children dead with multiple stab wounds.
They sought refuge at a policeman’s house nearby and the suspect followed them and stabbed the cop on the back with a spear.
He fatally stabbed a 33-year-old and further seriously injured three other people.
Kheshow returned to his house and stabbed two female adults to death before raping his uncle’s wife.
Police arrived and arrested him resulting in the recovery of the spear, axe and knobkerrie which were all blood-stained.
Kheshow was examined by a forensic psychiatrist on five occasions at Mlondolozi Special Institute.
The psychiatrist concluded that at the time of the committing the crimes, he was suffering from a mental disorder (schizoaffective disorder, maniac episode with disruptive behaviour).
In Zimbabwe, mental health falls under the Mental Health Act.
The term used in this Act is “mentally disordered or intellectually handicapped”. The definition of this term is provided in Section 2 of the Act as follows; ‘in relation to any person, means that the person is suffering from mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of the mind’.
A person who is mentally ill to such an extent that he is a danger to him/herself may require detention and/ or supervision, treatment and control in terms of the Mental Health Act.