Villagers in Chiwundura are living in fear of a local woman who is reportedly going around bragging that she was the “village bull” after she recently completed community service for fatally assaulting a man she accused of letting his cattle stray into her maize fields.
Letween Garatia (59)) of Village Mateza under Chief Gambiza was arrested and charged with murder in 2016 after she fatally assaulted a fellow villager, Tinos Magedhi after his cattle strayed into her maize fields.
She was later convicted of a lesser charge of culpable homicide at the Gweru regional court last year and was sentenced to perform 520 hours of community service at Chiwundura Clinic.
Some of the villagers from Chiwundura who recently attended an awareness campaign at the Gweru Rural Police Station recently raised concern over how Garatia got a lighter sentence for “committing murder”.
“We were shocked by the sentence she got. Now she has just finished her community service and is going around threatening people while saying she can beat anyone including men in the village. She knows it very well that even men in the village fear her too. She bullies everyone,” said a villager who was contributing during the meeting.
Another villager said most of Garatia’s neighbours were living in fear especially during the farming season when people need to be on the lookout for their cattle.
“Remember she fatally struck a fellow villager with a log — a man for that matter — after his cattle had strayed into her fields.
“Now the fields have crops and she has cultivated her fields so everyone in the village is in fear. If our cattle stray into her fields she will be violent,” she said.
Gweru Rural police officer in charge, Chief Inspector Samuel Tadzaushe declined to respond to the questions raised saying the matter was dealt with by the courts.
He said police exercised their duty and arrested Garatia before the matter was completed by the courts.
Meanwhile, our Midlands Bureau tracked down Garatia to Chiwundura Communal Lands.
She, however, acted bizarrely by refusing to get out of her bedroom hut at her homestead in Mateza Village where she stays alone.
This was after this reporter had introduced himself upon arriving at her homestead.
“I am in bed, what do you want? I don’t talk to the media. I was once in the newspapers with you people accusing me of murder. Why do you want to talk to a murderer?” said Garatia.
Villagers interviewed in the surrounding area said they were living in fear.
They said they were shocked about the sentence handed by the courts in Garatia’s case.
“We are in a tight situation living as neighbours to a person of her calibre. The challenge is she is moving around bragging that she did not go to jail despite killing a person. What makes the situation worse is that she is not friendly and stays alone,” said a villager who chose to remain anonymous.
The late Magedhi’s widow, Ketty, said Garatia never came to apologise after the unfortunate incident which resulted in the death of her husband.
She said Garatia used to pass through their homestead on her way to the nearby clinic where she was performing community service but never said a word to the family that lost “its breadwinner”.
“Thank God she recently completed her community service. Every day she would pass by the yard on her way to the clinic and it kept reminding the family of the great loss.
“The family has never been the same since the tragic death of Mr Magedhi but the most painful thing is that we see the person who killed him almost every day,” she said.
The area’s village head, Mr Bernard Sibanda also confirmed they were not comfortable living with the unpredictable Garatia.