Shocking Ritual Murder Trial Exposes Grisly Fate of Innocent Seven-year-old Cousins
The long-awaited trial for the chilling suspected ritual murder of two seven-year-old cousins, Melisa and Dylan Benza, finally commenced this week at the Mutare High Court in Mutasa.
Accused Plead Not Guilty
Solomon Manyama, Dylan’s maternal uncle, and Passmore Sambaza pleaded not guilty when they appeared before Justice Isaac Muzenda. Mrs. Jane-Rose Matsikidze represented the State, while Mr. Hastings Sithole and Ms. Fiona Maroko acted as defense counsels.
Prosecution Presents Case
Prosecutor Mrs. Matsikidze provided details of the tragic incident. On April 13, after being dismissed from school, Melisa and Dylan encountered Manyama on their way home. The accused allegedly lured the children to an abandoned home where they were killed and their bodies concealed in a disused toilet. Manyama then misled the search party about their whereabouts.
Discovery of Victims and Evidence
During the search, a patch of weeded and bloodstained grass was found, leading the party to the disused toilet. The bodies of the two children were recovered from the toilet pit, both bearing deep cuts on the left side of their necks. A bloodstained hoe and blood-spattered clothes were discovered at Sambaza’s homestead.
Testimonies and Investigation
Mr. Douglas Taurai Benza, Melisa’s father, testified that Manyama had given conflicting statements about the children’s whereabouts. Sambaza’s mother, Ms. Idah Pandukari, reported seeing Manyama with the children before their disappearance. Mr. Leeroy Chiromba, who discovered the bodies, described finding flattened grass leading to the toilet.
Medical Findings and Conclusion
Post-mortems revealed severe neck trauma as the cause of death for both children. The trial proceeds with closing submissions, and Justice Muzenda’s verdict is anticipated next Wednesday. This shocking case highlights a distressing trend of ritualistic killings, with previous incidents like Tapiwa Makore’s murder in 2020 reported by iHarare.