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'Witch' killer insane, judge rules
09/05/2011 00:00:00
by Lindie Whiz
 
Insanity plea ... The Bulawayo High Court
 
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A WOMAN who locked-up her 93-year-old mum in a hut before setting it on fire after accusing her of being a witch has been committed to a mental institution.

Bulawayo High Court judge Nicholas Ndou acquitted Thoko Ndlovu, 45, of the murder of Esther Malinga by reason of insanity.

A psychiatric evaluation of Ndlovu, of Ezihwabeni in Figtree, found that she displayed symptoms of “delusions of persecution and reference”.

Dr Elena Poskotchinova testified during the trial that Ndlovu thought her mother had bewitched her 19-year-old son, Mqondisi Nyathi, who died in a car accident in 2009.

Ndlovu, according to the doctor, said she saw a big black bird before her son’s death and believed that her mother sent the bird to kill her son.

“She [Esther] killed her four sisters, my son and wanted to kill me,” Ndlovu told the doctor during examination.

Giving her opinion, Dr Poskotchinova told the court there was a reasonable possibility that at the time she committed the crime, Ndlovu was suffering from “organic psychosis related to HIV or a paranoid syndrome” (mental disorder).

“She believes that her mother was a witch and used herbs for witchcraft. She is mentally disturbed to such an extent that she should not be held responsible for her actions. She needs a long course of treatment at a special institution,” concluded Dr Poskotchinova.

Justice Ndou, sitting with Phanuel Damba and Patrick Hikwa as assessors, returned a special verdict, committing Ndlovu to the Mlondolozi Special Institution.

Esther Malinga suffered 100 percent burns and her remains were charred beyond recognition following the arson attack on August 11, 2009.

The court heard that following her son’s death in a car accident earlier that year, Ndlovu consulted an inyanga who claimed Malinga had bewitched the victim.

Prosecuting, Timothy Simbarashe Makoni said Ndlovu began making threats to kill her mother. On several occasions on the day of the arson attack, Ndlovu’s daughter-in-law, Sikhathele, tried to talk her out of carrying out her threat.

But just after 11PM on the same day, the court heard, Ndlovu proceeded to her mother’s hut as she slept and tied her door with a wire to stop her from escaping.

She then set fire to the hut before going for a music show at the nearby Ngamela Business Centre.


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Ndlovu told her horrified daughter-in-law and family members at the show: “I’ve done it.”


 
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