George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Shell-shocked villagers could not hold back their tears as they prepared to bid farewell to Mrs Naume Garusa (41) (in the portrait, right), who was brutally murdered under unclear circumstances in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week.
Her decapitated body was found in a plastic bag in a refuse dump near Killarney.
The killers chopped her body into six pieces and stashed them in refuse collection plastic bags.
Though circumstances surrounding her disappearance are still cloudy, many who initially pointed the killing to xenophobia think there was another motive behind the brutal murder.
What kind of person commits such a gruesome murder and tries to conceal evidence in such a manner are questions relatives and friends who attended her funeral at Garusa homestead in the Chomupani area of Sengwe Communal Lands in Chikombedzi still ask.
On Wednesday morning, an emotionally charged atmosphere engulfed the homestead as relatives and neighbours kept coming to see for themselves what had become of their daughter.
The young and the old braved the drizzly weather that enveloped Chikombedzi to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Garusa family in its hour of mourning.
Only the brave had the courage to view Mrs Garusa’s remains before burial around 10am.
If anything, a warning was issued.
Only the emotionally-strong could view Mrs Garusa’s remains and one-by-one, the brave ones went round the casket.
Among them was her only child, Brian Garusa (22), a second-year University of Zimbabwe student.
What he saw in his mother’s casket weakened him as he immediately covered his face with both hands.
“We all accept that no one escapes death, but the way my mother died is very painful.
“We cannot stop death because it is natural, but to die like this is difficult to stomach,” said Brian tears rolling down his cheeks.
His mother was the sole breadwinner for the family.
“She was responsible for my upkeep at university and only God knows how I will cope without her,” he said.
Brian last spoke to his mother on Sunday evening via WhatsApp.
Unfortunately, that was the last time he heard from her.
He added that his mother did not respond to the WhatsApp messages he sent, and this was unlike her.
“She had actually promised to send me money so that I could buy a few essentials that I needed at college.
“I only learnt about her death four days later when my aunt in Gutu broke the sad news,” he said.
Brian said it was still not yet clear what motivated his mother’s brutal killing.
He added preliminary indications were that the murder might not have been influenced by xenophobia.
Mrs Garusa’s young sister, Nyembezi (30), who works in Pretoria said it was difficult to explain the reasons behind her sister’s murder.
“I am still shocked. I was the first to see my sister’s remains at the mortuary.
“Her body was cut into six pieces. I think the assailant(s) used a machete to chop off the head, both arms, and limbs. It was a gory sight that will be difficult to erase from the mind,” she said.
Nyembezi said before the murder, she spoke to her sister every day and all seemed well.
“I do not know the reason behind the brutal killing of my sister.
“We spoke via WhatsApp almost on a daily basis and she never indicated that her life was in danger.
“She told me that she was on her way to church on Sunday and the last words I said to her were, ‘Pray for me sister’.
“She was a prayer warrior and alternated her time between work and church,” said Nyembezi.
She says the void left by her sister was too big.
First, her late sister was the sole breadwinner for the family as she looked after six family members in Zimbabwe, including her son Brian and their mother Mbuya Ottina Garusa (67).
Naume’s uncle, Mr Thomas Mhondiwa Garusa (73), said he was speechless following the grisly murder.
The grey-haired Mr Garusa, however, did not mince his words and said xenophobia which was sweeping through South Africa motivated the murder.
“I am still shocked. If my late daughter (Garusa) owed her killers money at least they should have approached me and asked for payment. Ending her life in such a cruel way is unbearable.
“That was inhuman, an act motivated by the devil which is difficult to fathom.
“I do not think that is the best way for Africans to treat each other.
“For centuries people from around the Southern Africa sub-region have been flocking to South Africa to work in the mines, but we never experienced anything like this.
“How can a person hate a fellow African to the extent of killing them so heartlessly? The South African government should put an end to this violence on blacks by fellow blacks.”
But Gurusa’s brother, Richard, is not convinced this was a xenophobic attack.
For him the murder was premeditated since the assailants went on to chop Mrs Garusa’s body into pieces, put them in a litter bag and dumped them among refuse.
“I have never witnessed such cruelty in my entire life, this is shocking and South African police should hunt down my sister’s murderers. The whole thing seems to have been planned,” he says.
His sister could have known her killer (s) as according to information gleaned from witnesses on the ground, Mrs Garusa allegedly received a call from a private number around 9am while at a house she was employed in Houghton, Johannesburg.
A few minutes later she allegedly went to the gate and spoke to the unidentified caller via the intercom.
That was the last time Mrs Garusa was seen alive as she never returned until the recovery of her remains.
Whether she was abducted or voluntarily left with her murderer(s) is still a mystery.
South African police who are investigating Mrs Garusa’s murder have hinted that her death might not be linked to the ongoing xenophobic violence though investigations were continuing.
Chiredzi South House of Assembly representative Retired Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa, who attended Garusa’s burial, said all fingers pointed at xenophobia.
“My constituency happens to be right on the border with South Africa and many people easily cross and look for jobs across the Limpopo River. It is painful that we continue to lose many lives owing to xenophobia.
“This is the second wave of xenophobia to hit South Africa in recent years after the first one a few years ago and my question is what will happen and how many Zimbabweans will lose their lives if xenophobia comes for the third time?” he said.
He challenged Government to initiate developmental projects in the arid and drought-ravaged Limpopo Valley to stem the influx of job-seeking Zimbabweans into South Africa.
As pallbearers lowered Mrs Garusa’s remains into her grave, grief-stricken relatives, friends and ordinary villagers all seemed to agree that Mrs Garusa met her death at the hands of intolerant xenophobic hoodlums who are on the prowl in South Africa.