The Mutare High Court set the stage for a harrowing trial this week, marking the commencement of legal proceedings concerning the brutal murder of two innocent seven-year-old cousins, Melisa and Dylan Benza, from Kanganya Village in Mutasa.
The two youngsters met a tragic fate on their way back home from Mbaza Primary School in April 2021, sending shockwaves through the community and the country.
The Manica Post reports that Solomon Manyama (Dylan’s maternal uncle) and Passmore Sambaza stood in court, denying their involvement in the heinous act before Justice Isaac Muzenda.
Principal Prosecutor Mrs Jane-Rose Matsikidze provided a bone-chilling account, alleging,
“The accused persons connived and killed the two children in an abandoned home and concealed the bodies in a disused blair toilet.”
Mrs Matsikidze’s detailed narrative unfolded the events of April 13, alleging,
“Melissa and Dylan were reported missing around 4 pm, triggering an extensive search. Traces of bloodstained grass were discovered near a toilet at a deserted homestead, leading to the heart-wrenching discovery of the children’s lifeless bodies.”
Post-mortem examinations revealed severe neck trauma as the cause of their deaths, leaving the families shattered. Mr Douglas Taurai Benza, Melissa’s father, recounted the agonizing moments when he inspected his daughter’s and Dylan’s bodies, both bearing deep cuts on the left side of their necks.
“Manyama’s inconsistent statements about their whereabouts raised suspicions,” he testified. “He claimed to have seen them near different locations, misleading the search efforts.”
Witness testimonies painted a haunting picture. Ms Idah Pandukari, Sambaza’s mother, described Manyama’s peculiar behaviour on the day of the incident. She revealed, “Manyama was seen with the children before their disappearance. Later, bloodstained evidence was discovered at our homestead, intensifying the suspicions.”
Mr Leeroy Chiromba, the first to stumble upon the gruesome sight, vividly recalled the chilling discovery: “Trails of blood, a weeded portion, and ultimately, the children’s bodies in the toilet pit, covered in grass – a sight that still haunts us.”
Constable Fanuel Kwenda, who attended the scene, confirmed the horrific scene, stating, “Both bodies bore deep cuts on the left side of the neck, a grim sight confirming the identities of the deceased.”
The trial is poised to conclude with closing submissions from the State and the defence, followed by Justice Muzenda’s impending judgment. The community, gripped by grief and anger, awaits closure and hopes for justice to prevail in this distressing case that has left scars on the hearts of many.
The villagers of Kanganya Village and beyond have been profoundly affected by this tragedy. “Our children were taken away brutally, and we demand justice,” said a community representative. The outcry for justice reverberates throughout the region, as communities stand in solidarity with the grieving families.
The case has reignited conversations about child safety and the need for heightened vigilance. Community leaders, educators, and parents are advocating for increased awareness and safety measures to protect vulnerable children on their way to and from school.
Local authorities have reassured the public of their commitment to ensure that justice is served swiftly and fairly in this heart-wrenching case, pledging continuous support to the affected families.