ON Thursday, Bulawayo woke up to the news that a gold panner had allegedly doused his girlfriend with paraffin before setting her alight in Fort Rixon when he found her in bed with another man.
The story, carried in our sister paper The Chronicle, shocked many because of the gruesome and heartless manner in which, Tennyson Ncube of Melli Mine in Shangani, had allegedly gone about the act.
Ncube of Melli Mine reportedly doused Ms Mollet Mhlanga of New Eclipse Mine compound, Fort Rixon, and set her on fire. Resultantly, she suffered severe burns while the man she was found with who was only identified as Talent allegedly fled from the scene when Ncube became violent.
Ms Mhlanga is admitted to Gweru Provincial Hospital where she is battling for life in the Intensive Care Unit.
The attack seemed like a page taken from the script of a horror movie. However, as terrifying as it was even to imagine, this was not the first attack of its kind. Day after day newspaper pages are filled with stories of love gone wrong, as men and women turn to violence when relationships turn sour.
Crimes of passion have become fodder for both the courts and newspapers. Only last month a man from Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb allegedly sjamboked his wife to death after he found text messages in her phone and suspected she was having an affair.
Thabani Mpofu had a fight with his late wife Thembelani Ndlovu after he questioned her about a text message that he suspected was from her lover.
Mpofu allegedly went berserk after reading the message that came into his wife’s phone as he was using it.
“Yindaba ungaphenduli ifoni? (Why are you not answering your phone?)” read the message.
“Mpofu demanded an explanation and accused his wife of having an affair. She denied the allegations,” said a family spokesperson.
“He went to his sister with the phone and texted the person who had sent the message pretending to be Ms Ndlovu and arranged to meet the person at his house.”
She said the man who sent the text showed up around 9pm. He saw Mpofu and fled.
“Mpofu pursued him but failed to catch him. He returned carrying the man’s shoe. Mpofu was livid. He mercilessly whipped his wife. I woke up and tried to call the neighbours,” the family spokesperson said.
While infidelity can never be condoned, the reactions of these two men to the suspicion that their wives were having extra-marital affairs are unacceptable. Nothing can justify such gruesome and merciless punishment.
Disagreements and infidelity are as old as humankind. However, cases of spousal killing abuse seem to be particularly on the rise in recent times. Perhaps this is indicative of the fact that the old ways of dispute resolution and counselling are also dying.
Back in the day, the elders in a family were responsible for sitting down and resolving disputes between couples going through relationship strife. Through mature talk, those who had travelled the rocky road of marriage would sit down those that are younger and less matured and convince them that violent conflict was not the only way to resolve their differences.
This way, elders put the lid on relationship tensions before they bubbled over and turned into unrestrained violence.
Perhaps it is now time to revisit those old ways of doing things. The carnage that we see from relationships turned sour suggests that this is long overdue. Counselling and education might go a long way in preventing such encounters in future.