A WOMAN from Bulawayo’s Barbourfields suburb was found dead in a sewer tunnel near her family home at Mhlophe Flats in Mzilikazi suburb with her family suspecting that she could have been mugged and murdered.
The woman identified as Evelyn Gutuza (50), was discovered by neighbours yesterday morning. She is thought to have died on Wednesday shortly after leaving Mhlophe Flats at around 8.30 pm.
She was on way to her rented house in neighbouring Barbourfields suburb after spending the day at the family home in Mzilikazi.
The deceased’s family allege that she was strangled before her body was dumped in the culvert a few metres away from her family home.
However, police are treating the case as sudden death, saying there were no visible injuries or bruises suggesting that she could have been murdered.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the deceased’s family yesterday, neighbours and relatives had gathered at Mhlophe Flats.
The deceased’s sister, Ms Louise Gutuza, who stays at the family house in Mzilikazi, said they were alerted by neighbours upon stumbling on Evelyn’s body in the sewer drainage. The visibly distressed Ms Gutuza told Chronicle that she was terrified upon seeing her sister’s body lying inside the tunnel and there was froth coming out of her mouth.
She strongly suspects her sister was killed by muggers while on her way to Barbourfields.
“We had actually spent the day at our family home watching movies on television. She left our place at around 8pm and we got shocked this morning when neighbours came to inform us about her death,” said Ms Gutuza.
“Although my sister was hypertensive, she never showed any signs of being unwell when she left our flat, which is why we suspect she was killed by thugs on her way to Barbourfields where she stayed with her family.”
Evelyn’s niece, Ms Tamlin Motshoeneng said her aunt did not reach home on Wednesday night and her husband suspected that she had decided to sleep in Mzilikazi. “My aunt never reached home last night after she left our house in Mzilikazi. However, this morning her husband came looking for her thinking she slept here and when we told him that she left the previous night he went back,” she said.
“While on his way back home, he came across two strangers who informed him that there was a woman lying dead in a sewer drainage.”
Ms Motshoeneng said upon arrival at the scene, his uncle discovered that it was his wife’s body. “It was around 6am when my uncle discovered the body and he immediately made a U-turn and informed us about my aunt’s death before he proceeded to the police station and reported the matter,” she said.
Ms Motshoeneng said when they checked her aunt’s WhatsApp’s messages on her cellphone, it showed that she was last seen at 8.39pm.
The deceased’s cousin, Ms Valeria Nematanga said when they arrived at the scene, they discovered that she had blood clots and swellings on her back indicating that she could have been strangled.
“This is a murder case and we suspect Evelyn was strangled by her attackers. Her handbag was missing and the only valuable item that we discovered was her cellphone, which was stashed inside her panties,” she said.
Ms Nematanga said they suspected the woman’s attackers were people from the neighbourhood who took advantage of the curfew hours to rob and kill Evenyn because the streets were deserted.
“It is possible that her assailants only wanted to rob her, but when she recognised them that is when they decided to kill her to conceal evidence. They couldn’t steal her cellphone because she had hidden it in her undergarment,” she said.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed the incident. He however, said they were investigating a case of sudden death.
“The woman had visited her relatives at Mhlophe Flats where she spent the whole day watching television. Later in the evening at 8pm she then decided to leave for her home in Barbourfields and she was given vegetables to go and cook at her home,” he said.
“However, she did not arrive home and the following morning her husband went to look for her thinking she was still in Mzilikazi and that is when he discovered her body lying alongside the road leading to Mhlophe Flats and a report was made to us.”
The body was taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) for a post mortem.
“We are investigating a sudden death case since she had no visible injuries to suggest that she could have been attacked. However, we are now waiting for post mortem results, which will guide us on the exact cause of her death,” said the police spokesperson. –