The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
IN a fit of rage a man from Matobo District allegedly assaulted his wife, used a liquid substance suspected to be acid to burn her legs before holding her hostage for a week so that she could not seek medical attention.
As if that was not enough, the man Mbukiso Moyo later dumped the ailing wife Ms Sanele Sibanda in a field after her relatives’ started quizzing him about her whereabouts. Ms Sibanda (29) has been admitted to Maphisa District Hospital since 3 August 2021 when she was found unconscious in a field. She had been missing for almost a week.
According to a close relative of Ms Sibanda, her husband Moyo (40), an elder with the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, physically assaulted her, burnt her legs and thighs, held her against her will in their home preventing her from getting medical attention. He then allegedly dumped her in a field when her relatives intensified the search for her. A medical report from Dr Lovemore Mbundinga from the hospital explains the gravity of the injuries.
“Second degree burns on the legs and thighs, approximately 12 percent, two deep lacerations on each leg and bruises on the back. Burns can cause complications leading to death,” the report read.
Sunday News on Friday visited Ms Sibanda at the hospital where she spoke of the hell she had gone through at the hands of her husband.
“We started arguing some time ago when I asked him why he was not eating the food I was preparing for him at home. That is when I had been informed of an extra-marital affair that he had with a local woman. He would always say he is full if I asked why he was not eating. I asked him on five occasions,” narrated Ms Sibanda.
“I left for my family’s home and he later followed where we resolved the matter and I assumed it was now in the past.
Two weeks later it continued and he was always physically assaulting me. I tried to be patient with him, on one occasion he chased after me with an axe and I sought refuge at a relative’s homestead. He called the next morning looking for me there and told my aunt that he wanted us to resolve the matter and she went to him and was told that we were fighting because I had asked if he was having an affair with someone else.”
Ms Sibanda said after a while she returned to her home in the company of her relatives who also assumed the matter had been put to rest as they had resolved it amicably. A day later, she said she noticed that her husband was still in the same state she had left him in, angry!
“He then said to me that when he shares a bed with me, he feels like he is sharing it with his brother as he no longer has sexual feelings towards me. I paid no attention to him. He then took me near to the fields, he had a plastic bag with my clothes, hat and underwear and some water and chopped those clothes into small pieces with an axe. I asked him what his motive was in chopping my clothes, since he wanted to chop me up previously. We then continued with our usual fights,” she said.
Thereafter, she was brutally attacked once more.
“He started fighting with me and he hit me so badly that I lost consciousness for some time and only regained it and realised that I was in a bush. I dragged myself into the field and managed to shout for help. They tried to carry me with a wheelbarrow but they failed and had to call other relatives who assisted and brought me to the hospital,” she sobbed.
However, upon her admission to the hospital her husband told officials that she was mentally challenged hence the state she was in. Ms Sibanda, however, said she does not know what was used to burn her legs and thighs.
“I woke up like this in the bush and I do not know what he used to burn me. The doctors said it could be acid. I told the nurses I appeared like a mentally challenged person because I had spent time in the bush as I was dirty and bloody so it looked as though I was not fine. The police also had the same statement from him,” she said.
She spoke more of her abuse.
“I have been physically abused by this man for many years and all the time I assumed it would change. We lived together for 11 years and have three children but I do not see myself reuniting with him, look at the way we lived, I’m not going back. I cannot walk on my own now, I need help to bath, use the toilet and also I cannot sit up by myself, someone has to help me. If my aunt was not around, I do not know who was going to assist me.”
Ms Lungile Sibanda, an aunt to Sanele has been stationed at the hospital to help Ms Sibanda.
“Her challenges escalated when her husband was said to be in an extra-marital affair with another woman. She had green marks on her back where she was being beaten up. On the day she was admitted here my daughter received a call from her husband saying he couldn’t find Sanele as she left home carrying a pesticide. He spent the next four days saying she was missing and he could not locate her, he also claimed search parties and the police had been dispatched to assist and still could not locate her.
Another relative decided to go down to Maphisa to assist in looking for her and told her husband he was coming to sleep over at their home. The following day he was informed that Sanele had been found in the fields but seriously injured,” she said.
Initially, Moyo was allowed to visit his wife in hospital but they realised it was a danger to her so now he has been barred from the hospital. He has also informed them that he had a mentally ill wife who had run away from home.
“We as a family started to have question marks as to how the whole matter was playing out, from his statements that she had left home with a pesticide and to her being found burnt. He also had said he had made a police report and we went and discovered he was lying; we are the ones who made a report leading to his arrest. This man also did not want Sanele to visit her family in case she exposed the abuse over the years. We never expected this from a church elder, he really injured her a lot.
Sanele, because of the assault, does not remember some of the events after she was assaulted by her husband,” said the aunt.
“There are some women who believe that abuse is part of marriage, they think it’s okay to be physically assaulted. She never reported this abuse and conditioned herself to being assaulted. Women need to be educated that abuse is not part of marriage.”
Moyo reportedly appeared in court in Kezi on Friday to answer to charges of physical abuse and was remanded out of custody to an unknown date. UNFPA notes that one in three women experience GBV in their lifetime and several cases go unreported due to fear by the victims. — @NyembeziMu