The Sunday Mail
Veronica Gwaze recently in Gokwe
THE Chikafa family from Mabharani Village, Gokwe South, wants the court to pardon its relative, Alastar Chikafa (26), for allegedly killing his father and brother late last year.
This is against the wishes of members of the community that are calling for a stiffer prison sentence for the offender. The Chikafas are visibly hurt and disturbed by the incident, but blame it on evil spirits.
They have since forgiven the young man and are planning to conduct rituals supposedly to set free Alastar from the vice.
“It was the work of the devil, he could never do such a thing in his normal senses,” the family unanimously say.
Talk of family love through thick and thin!
The grisly homicide case that is said to have been committed by the 26-year-old can easily match any of Hollywood’s Stephen King’s movie scripts. It transpired after his long-time girlfriend, Loveness Mafa, decided to give him a “boost” into marriage by eloping in May last year. Initially, the plan seemed to work well as Alastar swiftly responded by going far and wide to raise the money for lobola.
However, several months into the mission, the young lad is said to have failed to achieve his goals.
He then returned with a transformed character that many could not understand.
On December 9, 2019, Chikafa developed unexplained rage that later resulted in him axing his father Mathias (65) on the back of his head several times. His brother, Alfred (28), was also axed on the neck, as well as two cows. For days before the crime, he is said to have frequently talked about being bewitched by family members. He threatened to commit murder.
According to village witnesses, just after the incident Alastar feigned ignorance on what had transpired.
“He acted as if he was shocked by the death of his father and brother, behaving like he was not the one behind the crime,” revealed a neighbour who declined to be named.
Nonetheless, Alastar, who is the third born child in a family of 11, was arrested and is currently in police custody.
He appeared before a Gokwe magistrate on January 7, where he pleaded guilty and was remanded in custody. Authorities at the court requested that he first be psychologically evaluated as the accused was showing signs of mental instability during incarceration. But what exactly could have triggered this monstrous behaviour in Chikafa?
All sorts of explanations, ranging from poverty, frustration and Satanism, have been given by villagers.
The Sunday Mail Society’s crew visited the Chikafa’s homestead, which happens to be the crime scene, in search of answers. A sight of the compound, situated on a dry sandy area, told a deafening story.
Welcoming us to the homestead was a huge pot full of boiled vegetables that clearly had no single drop of cooking oil in them. Housing structures that make up the homestead are nowhere near average.
In fact, they are not fit to be human habitat. The absence of proper ablution facilities worsen everything. Nine of Alastar’s siblings appeared confused as they sat quietly under a wooden structure used to dry grains. Their mother, Sithunyiwe Mayisa, looked equally lost. The tense atmosphere made it difficult to interview them.
Mayisa’s swollen red eyes confirmed her lack of sleep and that she was continuously shedding tears.
It was only after extending our condolences and applying tact that one of the older sisters, Ruth, opened up.
“Alastar was never a violent person. He loved peace and maintained such in the family. Things just changed when he returned from Shangani. We don’t know what happened to him there,” narrated Ruth.
“It is a pity we have lost everything. We lost our father and brother to death while Alastar has been arrested for murder. His wife has since gone back to her parents.”
According to the family, Alastar spent seven months illegally mining gold in Shangani. However, he returned home empty handed.
“This certainly is a case of evil spirits at play, this is not the Alastar we know. If we conduct rituals he will come back to his senses,” added Ruth.
Alastar’s mother escaped danger by a whisker.
On the fateful day, she had gone to collect food donations some 11 kilometres away. His young brother, Atanus, escaped his brother’s wrath on the fateful day, although he was severely beaten.
Atanus weighed in: “I shivered as I saw my father’s head with a deep open cut, with blood oozing profusely. He was still breathing, but could neither talk nor move,” recounted Atanus.
Atanus managed to break free and flee for dear life as Alastar was reaching out for his murder weapon.
“I don’t think what happened was entirely his fault. He was mentally unstable. I have since forgiven him and I really hope everyone else will do the same.”
However, the community has a different view.
They have since labelled the Chikafa homestead a “devil’s empire”. They think Alastar sold his soul to the devil in his quest for wealth.
Said Mayisa: “The local community is giving me a torrid time. They are saying my family and church belongs to a satanic cult. It was worse during the funeral as they passed nasty comments.
“The church that is under attack assisted me with a coffin for my husband. My son had to be buried without one since we could not afford it.”
Alastar’s mother added that she was praying that the community, as well as the court, pardon his son.
“He committed the crime under some evil influence. I just wish my husband had taken heed of what I was telling him (sighs). Signs were telling us that all was not well. If we had managed to get spiritual help on time, none of this would have happened. Without divine help, more harm will befall the family,” she noted.
Since the burial of the father and son, none of Mayisa’s in-laws has visited her family.