The Hurungwe man who hacked to death three people with an axe before downing poison was buried on Thursday amid high tension. His victims were also buried at their respective rural homes the same day.
Ephraim Hari was buried near his homestead in Bhobho village, Kapiri area under Chief Kazangarare on Thursday afternoon, the same day that his worker, Emson Charedzera, was being buried in Guruve.
His other victims including wife Faresi Mauya and her brother Lawson Mwanza were buried in Mutorashanga yesterday. Ephraim could not stomach being confronted for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl, the resultant embarrassment and prospects of a lengthy jail term.
He went on the rampage, killing all the people who knew about the rape, hours after discussions to resolve the matter without involving outsiders. Armed with an axe Ephraim is suspected to have hacked down his wife first after being told she knew about the rape.
He then went for his brother-in-law, before finally striking his worker.
Ephraim then went to his brother, Claudius’ home about 400 metres from his homestead and also struck him with an axe.
His brother was, however, lucky to escape with injuries and is recovering at Karoi District Hospital.
Before his burial, the in-laws who lost two children in one night demanded 13 head of cattle.
The burial proceeded after protracted negotiations in which the Hari family offered to pay six beasts up front.
They promised to pay the remainder over time. A tense atmosphere with a palpable sense of fear swept through Bhobho village as people struggled to come to terms with the horrific triple murder.
Some villagers set aside their shock to attend Ephraim’s funeral, while others boycotted the funeral altogether.
Out of fear some neighbours have fled their homes to live with relatives in nearby villages.
The burial was fast-tracked amid reports that bodies of people who have committed suicide are not supposed to be kept in the houses overnight.
But his uncle, Member Mapfura, said the decision to fast track the burial was due to the poor state of Ephraim’s body. “We were told to collect the body at Karoi District Hospital because it was starting to go bad,” he said.
“So it had to be buried the same day that it arrived, because we had to choose between following tradition and having the body decompose.”
The Herald caught up with Claudius’ wife, Irene Veremu, who fought tooth and nail to save her husband from certain death by pulling him inside after he was struck with an axe once.
“Uncle (Ephraim) came and knocked at around midnight pleading for an opportunity to finalise discussions on the alleged rape. My husband initially refused to open the door saying it was late before he opened and was struck with an axe,” she narrated.
She said Ephraim expressed fears that the whole world would know what had happened and he would be imprisoned. This should not happen, he declared as he pounded the door demanding that she let him in.
She used furniture to reinforce the door with the support of her 14-year-old son.
“You think you are more powerful than me”, he reportedly asked during the ensuing commotion.
The scene was like a scene from a horror movie as Ephraim bayed for his brother’s blood.
“I kept telling him that I would not open the door as I feared he would attack me also but he said I do not share the same blood with him, so he would not hurt me,” she said.
This, she said, did not give her assurance and she kept the door locked.
He reportedly turned to the barn where cured tobacco was being stored and a kitchen hut both of which he set on fire.
After a while, they sought help from a neighbour after realising that Claudius was fast losing blood and his condition was getting worse. He was taken to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Mrs Mauya sought refuge at a neighbour’s home fearing that her uncle Ephraim would return. Up to now, she said it had not sunk in her mind that Ephraim is dead, and she lives in constant fear that he could return to harm her and her family.
After the heinous act, Ephraim proceeded to his mother Rosnet Chinavaenzwa’s home about 1,5km from his homestead. His uncle Mr Mapfura said he pleaded with his mother to escort him to his former wife’s home about a kilometre away saying he wanted to talk to them about something.
She refused and he left.
However, his body was found lying on the floor with froth foaming at the mouth. It was established that he had taken tobacco pesticide. Enquiries at the former in-laws’ home established that he did not set foot there.
First to be found dead the following morning was his wife Faresi who was found lying in a pool of blood on the veranda. She had deep cuts on the head and all over her body. It is suspected that she tried to crawl from the bedroom to go outside for assistance after being struck with the axe.
The brother and worker were found lying in the bedroom with multiple cuts the following day, as people never suspected that they could still be at the homestead.
“We thought that they could have fled the homestead after witnessing Faresi’s violent killing. So, we went to Mbuya Chinavaenzwa’s home, but when we returned with the police, that is when we found the two bodies in the bedroom,” said Irene Mauya.
Although Ephraim was described by many as a quiet person, Bhobho village and its surroundings are searching for answers as how a person would cause so much death.
Said Mr Frank Murasiranwa: “I could not even go for the funeral because I am yet to understand how such a thing can happen.”
But what triggered such a crime? According to family members, the late Faresi Mauya was asked to go and stay with her mother-in-law Gogo Chinavaenzwa who was not feeling well, early this month.
It is during that time that Ephraim reportedly raped the girl.
After Gogo Chinavaenzwa’s recovery Faresi went back home, while the girl went to live with her Gogo. On April 10, Gogo Chinavaenzwa took the girl and two others to the river to bath.
She reportedly asked to examine them with one of them aged 17 refusing saying it was embarrassing for the process to be done in the presence of girls younger than her.
However, the other two underwent the examination and the girl was found to have engaged in sexual intercourse. “She initially refused to name the perpetrator but later said it was uncle Ephraim,” said Mrs Veremu.
It is believed that the late Faresi Mauya alerted her in mother-in-law Gogo Chinavaenzwa of a possible case of abuse leading her to investigate through the examination.
It is believed that Ephraim killed his wife who is stepmother to the girl because of the information that she had and the possibility of her telling his in-laws from the previous marriage.
As Ephraim’s coffin was being lowered into his grave, Kapiri village breathed a sigh of relief but the scar will remain for a long time to come.
In Mutorashanga, questions and bewilderment engulfed the community. herald