The Sunday News
Mthabisi Tshuma, Sunday News Reporter
A nine-year-old boy from Pelele Village in Gwanda District, Matabeleland South died in a suspected suicide after he hanged himself with a belt on a scotch-cart support bar in what has left the community wondering how the alleged bizarre incident could have happened.
Michael Ndlovu, who was doing Grade Two at Pelele Primary School, was found hanging from a parked scotch cart by his three-year-old younger brother while his ill father was asleep in a room less than 20 metres away last Monday. Matabeleland South police spokesman Inspector Philisani Ndebele could not comment on the matter but Sunday News attended the burial of Michael yesterday.
His relatives expressed shock and disbelief over the incident saying they were short of words on what could have troubled the boy, forcing him to take his life, as suspected. Michael’s distraught grandmother Mrs Keabetswe Ndlovu said the boy was well behaved and hard-working and on that day he had skipped school to drive the family cattle for dipping. Mrs Ndlovu said she left the homestead at around midday to attend to her garden only to return around 4 pm to find the boy hanging from the scotch cart support bar.
“I left Michael in the company of his two brothers, one aged three and the other aged 11 but when I came back the older one had gone to pen the donkeys. As I was approaching the little one came to me saying Michael was no longer talking. I was shocked when I saw him hanging from the scotch cart and dropped everything I was carrying and rushed to him. I screamed and his father woke up half naked and rushed to the shops to call other people. His knees were on the ground and up to now we are still shocked and wondering how he hanged himself. I am thinking of abandoning this homestead as it will haunt me for life,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
She said she was still to understand why the young boy took his life as he was always cheerful. Other mourners said the incident has shocked the community.
“The level of the scotch cart support bar was low. His body was found in a kneeling position and it is very difficult for one to believe that the young boy had committed suicide,” said one of the villagers who requested anonymity.
As if that was not enough, Michael’s mother who is now separated from the father reportedly demanded that her family needed two beasts and an undisclosed amount of money for the burial to proceed. She reportedly told her former husband and his relatives that she was not buying the story that her son committed suicide. Sunday News could not speak to the mother as she hurriedly returned to Chiredzi where she is working. A teacher at Pelele Primary School, where Michael was learning said the school was shocked.
“We still cannot believe that a young child doing his Grade 2 decided to take away his life and we are mourning as a school,” the teacher said. Ward 12 Councillor Costa Ndlovu said the incident was bizarre.
He urged elders to do away with such practices as children tend to follow in their footsteps adding that it is taboo for a minor to commit suicide.