Court says accused in double witchcraft murder a ‘suitable candidate’ for death penalty, imposes lesser sentence because of sincere beliefs
The high court in Zimbabwe has been grappling with the question of how to deal with witchcraft-related murder, and the role that such beliefs should play in a trial. It’s an on-going issue for courts in a number of African countries, and in this case, the presiding judge, Lucy Mungwari, looked at a variety of approaches by other courts. The case she was considering was particularly horrific, as the accused murdered his own father and his aunt, both of whom were well over 80 years old.
The presiding judge in this case, Lucy Mungwari, said she agreed that African communities generally embraced traditional healers and that there was a persistent belief in witchcraft. The ‘witches’ in such matters were seen not benign, however, but were regarded as ‘irredeemably wicked’ by their communities.