A 27-YEAR-OLD man allegedly bludgeoned his one- year-old daughter to death with a hammer and left his wife and mother-in-law seriously injured after attacking them with the same weapon.
Lungisani Dube (27) of Dandanda village, Lupane, suddenly went berserk on Sunday at around 6AM at a church shrine during prayers after fasting for five days.
Sources said he started behaving strangely at a Pentecostal church shrine known as Madzibaba Jerusalem.
“Congregants got alarmed when he started dancing ‘like a mad man.’ He would not stop even when others asked him to as they wanted to start praying,” said a congregant who declined to be named.
“We rushed him home where he got worse and his family returned him to the shrine for prayers. His condition further deteriorated as he started dancing to a rhythm that only he could hear. We suspect he was possessed by demons that were cast from some members during the five-day prayer and fasting session.”
Sources said as soon as he got home, he grabbed a hammer and attacked his wife, Privilege Tshuma (22), daughter, Simelinkosi Dube and mother-in-law, Ottilia Mpofu (39).
A villager, Mr Prosper Ndlovu, said Dube bashed the baby on the head and she died on the spot.
His wife and mother were admitted to St Luke’s Mission Hospital where they were said to be in a critical condition.
Shell-shocked villagers said they still do not understand what triggered the inexplicable violence in Dube, who they described as a loving family man.
Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Dr Nyasha Masuka confirmed the gruesome attack.
“A man whom we suspect could have become mentally disturbed injured his family members, resulting in the child dying on the spot. He used a hammer to clobber each one of them and villagers had to apprehend and surrender him to the police. He suddenly started behaving strangely while at church and family had to leave church disturbed by his behaviour,” he said.
Dr Masuka said police surrendered Dube to staff at St Luke’s Mission Hospital after he started talking gibberish.
He said Dube was further transferred to Ingutsheni Central Hospital.
“The patient has been diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis and has since been admitted at Ingutsheni Central Hospital where he is receiving treatment.
“It is important for relatives and communities to take their relatives who develop signs of mental illness to a health facility urgently because some episodes can result in violence and can have sad consequences like what happened with this family,” Dr Masuka said.
In October last year, a mentally challenged 33-year-old man from Lupane attacked a Form Four pupil with an axe as he was walking from school with two other pupils.
The man, who had sat under a tree at Kenmor Business Centre for a long time while holding an axe, pounced on the boys as they went past him.
The boy died the following day at Mpilo Central Hospital.
This incident was the third reported gruesome killing committed by a person suspected to be mentally unstable in the southern region in two months.
Earlier that month, a 34-year-old mentally challenged man from Lower Gweru allegedly strangled his mother with his bare hands before fatally axing two neighbours.
He had allegedly made a hit list of six people that he wanted to kill.
Last September, a mental patient in Tsholotsho allegedly butchered a six-year-old Grade One pupil before ripping his stomach open with a knife.
He then guarded the corpse.
The incidents come at a time when the biggest mental hospital in Matabeleland, Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo, is facing a critical shortage of medicines for both its in and out of hospital patients.
Three nurses were attacked by patients last year as patients go without sedatives.
Officials at Ingutsheni Central Hospital say the drug shortage has resulted in unsustainable cases of outpatients relapsing and needing re-admission at the crowded institution.