Bikita woman escapes jail

MASVINGO - A woman whose three sons died after she fed them with treated maize in hunger- stricken Bikita has escaped jail.

Masvingo magistrate, Esther Muremba has sentenced Fungai Tafirenyika to five years in jail on culpable homicide charges but wholly suspended the prison term on compassionate grounds.

The magistrate said Tafirenyika was trying to save her children from hunger and her little education contributed to the death of the boys.

Tafirenyika, who only went up to Grade 1 primary school education, was a struggling single parent after her husband walked out on her, the court heard.

After food ran out, Tafirenyika, unaware of the hazards, washed the maize seed and used it for a meal resulting in the fatalities.

The magistrate said mitigatory circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors hence the suspended sentence.

She said Tafirenyika was acting in good faith. Tafirenyika was trying to ensure her children did not succumb to the hunger affecting the entire Masvingo Province.

Prosecutor Sofia Bhusvumani told the court that Tafirenyika fed her sons, George, 4, Trust, 4, and Kefasi Muishi, 7, with roasted treated maize seed she had washed.

The children died after about two hours at their homestead while she survived after also eating the meal.

Tafirenyika told the court that she was forced to feed the children with the maize seed because she had no food after being abandoned by the father of the children for a year. The maize seed was the only food in the house, she said. - Godfrey Mtimba

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