Saturday 17 April 2021


It is sunset in Mbata Village in Shamva and Gilbert Samhungu, gets home to find his three sons feeding on stolen groundnuts. 

He is sure his children have stolen the groundnuts for two reasons; firstly, he never grew groundnuts and secondly, his three sons are known by everyone in the village and beyond as the “Three Musketeers” for their stealing antics.  

That the children, Tadiwanashe (9), Byron (7) and Author (6)   are habitual thieves is an undisputed fact in the village, for, they have been caught on many occasions and admitted to theft.

Samhungu has punished them by flogging again and again, again and again and again and again, for theft. In past he has even beaten his wife for giving the boys “light” punishment after theft.

 This particular day, Samhungu is so disturbed and enraged. 

One by one he ties the boys to the bed and flogs them with a log. He burns their hands with drops of burning plastic. His wife too, who often got flogged with the children on occasions such as these, sneaks out and scampers for help from neighbours.  

The community child protection committee in Mbata village in Shamva South has unearthed a chilling case of child abuse by 33-year-old man who burnt the hands of his sons with plastics and seriously assaulted them for stealing groundnuts.

Tadiwanashe, Byron and Author are now hospitalised at Bindura hospital due to the injuries sustained at the hands of their father Gilbert Samhungu.

Their mother Joylene Kunyama (28) and her three sons silently suffered for years from physical thrashing from Samunhu until the community decided to take action and report the matter to Madziva Police Station.

On the fateful day on March 7 this year, Samhungu tied his eldest son Tadiwanashe to the bed and used a log to smack his backside until the child could no longer sit.  He then assaulted Byron using the same modus operandi until the child soiled himself.

The Herald visited the children at Bindura Hospital where they are under the care of their mother. Author’s palms are badly burnt while Byron also suffered burn wounds on his hands and leg.

Tadiwanashe who is still struggling to sit was lying on the hospital bed face down.  Narrating the abuse, a teary Kunyama, said his sons are known in the community as the “Three Musketeers” for stealing but their father savagely beats them.

“When he starts assaulting the children it is more like he is fighting with men of his age. On Sunday when I accompanied my husband to help my father-in-law in his tobacco field. I cooked for the children and we returned around midday,” she said.

“My husband left for the garden and on his way he saw Byron and Tadiwanashe sitting down eating groundnuts. He asked where they got the groundnuts and they said the Sawaya family gave them.

“Knowing that the children are thieves, he went to confirm if it was true and he was told that two started eating the groundnuts in the morning although they were not seen in the neighbour’s field.”

Kunyama said the children are extremely afraid of their father and they admitted to taking the groundnuts for Sawaya’s field.

“As a mother I took a small tree branch and lightly assaulted Tadiwanashe in a bid to protect the children from their father’s wrath,” she said.  

“He later called Tadiwanashe in the bedroom and asked him to remove his short before tying him to the bed. He took a thick log and started assaulting the child. I ran to our neighbour for help and he released him.

“Around 6pm he called Bryron into the bedroom and tied him to the bed. The child soiled himself from the assault. I washed him and he disappeared naked. I looked for the child and could not find him.”

After running away from home the 7-year-old went to More Mbata’s homestead and sneaked into a broken down vehicle and hid.

The following morning Bryron was found in the vehicle and people gathered including the school development committee. This was the second time the 7-year-old slept in the bush, hiding from his father.

The village head William Mbata made a decision to take the matter to the police. The children were referred to Bindura Hospital due to the nature of the injuries.

“Prior to this incident, the children stole beans from the neighbour’s fireplace and ate. Author took maize cobs from Murungweni’s field and ate the whole pot of chicken,” she said.

“After learning about the incidents the father gathered Bryron and Author at the fireplace and dropped burning plastics on their palms and legs.

“I told my neighbour to alert SOS officials who were visiting our village about what we were going through. I was afraid of my husband that I could not go to the police or open up about the abuse.”

Community child care workers tried to reach out to the family but they were threatened by Gilbert.

Kunyama said a lot of times she was physically assaulted by her husband but could not leave or seek help.

“Every time I seek help or open up the abuse becomes worse. Both my parents are late and our homestead was sold. I don’t know where I can go with these children,” said Kunyama.

Ward 9 councillor Simon Matibairakupusa said after learning about the physical abuse issue of Kunyama it was difficult to involve the police because she was not willing to open up.

The reaction by the community in this case is a result of consciousness raised through child protection awareness campaigns.

“We have a child protection committee supported by Social Welfare and SOS. The community was trained on children rights,” he said.

“We also have child care workers who work through social welfare and report on such cases. In this case the father intimidated child care workers, people are scared of him because he is an ex-convict.

“We have identified three women who are going to be trained on foster care. These foster care parents will provide temporal shelter to victims of abuse. In this case the children were stealing foodstuff and this could be an indication of hunger.

“We are going to improve social support systems for this family and make sure the children are put under BEAM and the family receives grain relief. Reprimanding a child to an extent of requiring medical attention is abuse.”

Gilbert was remanded in custody to March 25 when he appeared before Mt Darwin magistrate Arnold Maburo on ill-treating or neglect of a child charges. Herald


Post a Comment