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Mother Beats Son To Death For Joining Nyau, Escapes Jail

A woman who beat her own child to death has walked away scot-free after the High Court ruled that beating children is permissible under Zimbabwe law and cannot be classified as assault and a criminal offence.

The shocking ruling, which sets a very dangerous precedent for children, was made by High Court judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi.

Justice Mutevedzi made the stunning ruling in the case of Yeukai Graham Mutero, who was facing a murder charge. Mutero was charged with murder after she beat her 12-year-old son Desmond Kuzivakwashe Matsatsi to death in January 2022.

Mother Beats Son To Death

Desmond was allegedly a problem child who always got into trouble with neighbours and relatives. On the fateful day, Desmond courted his mother’s ire when it was revealed that he had joined a Nyau cult.

Mutero allegedly tied Desmond to the base of a bed with the help of her other son Ocean Mutero.

Mother and son then proceeded to beat Desmond with a Mulberry stick and a fan belt all over his body as a means of disciplining him.

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However, Desmond later died from injuries sustained during the beating leading to the arrest of his mother and brother.

A post-mortem was conducted, and the pathologist concluded that “the deceased died as a result of brain damage, subarachnoid haemorrhage in the right hemisphere and head trauma.”

During her trial, Mutero pleaded not guilty. The mother told the court that she had no intention to kill her son and was just administering corporal punishment as a means of disciplining him for his wayward behaviour.

High Court Justice Mutevedzi’s Ruling On Beating Children

Justice Mutevedzi ruled that beating children is permissible under the law if the intention is to discipline wayward children.

The High Court judge went on to say that Mutero cannot be blamed for her son’s death because she assaulted him in the normal course of parental discipline. He also added that any “reasonable parent” who believes in corporal punishment would have done the same thing.

In his ruling, Justice Mutevedzi said,

“Any reasonable parent who believes in the effectiveness and correctness a corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure would have acted in the same flamer that the accused did and used the same light switches that the accused used. This death resulted from a permissible assault.”

Justice Mutevedzi also dismissed the charge of culpable homicide against the mother and son, saying,

“The prosecutor’s contention that the accused be convicted of culpable homicide is equally unsupportable. For that to happen, it must be shown that the accused ought to have, as a reasonable person, foreseen that her actions could lead to death. We have already shown above how the punishment meted out to the deceased remained within the permissible limits.

“We are constrained to hold that in this case, there was no way that the accused could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of death. Flowing from that conclusion, she was not expected to guard against the occurrence of a death which she did not reasonably foresee as a possibility.”

The High Court judge also dismissed a charge of assault against the mother, saying corporal punishment is legal and cannot be classified as a criminal offence if the parent intended to discipline their child.

“Assault is a permissible verdict for the crime of murder. It means the accused can be convicted of assault in a murder trial if the evidence supports that.

“In this case, we have already held that s 241 of the Criminal Law Code permits parents to administer corporal punishment on their minor children.

“We have also held that in our view the corporal punishment did not degenerate into impermissible conduct. On that basis, the charge of assault cannot be sustained.”

The judge added,

“Her beating of the deceased remained reasonable. She did not harbour an intention actual or legal, to hurt the deceased let alone kill him. For those reasons we are not convinced that the state managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt as required at law.

“Accordingly, the accused is found not guilty and is acquitted of the charge of murder.”


As a result of the High Court judge’s ruling, Yeukai Graham Mutero walked away scot-free despite killing her 12-year-old son for joining Nyau dancers.

Mother Beats Son To Death For Joining Nyau, Escapes Jail


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