Chiredzi medical doctor acquitted over murder of children

Simbarashe Mtembo

MIRROR REPORTER 

MASVINGO–Prominent Chiredzi medical doctor, William Phiri (56) who banged his two minor children onto the floor, one after another in January 2021 in Mkwasine,  Chiredzi thereby causing their deaths has been acquitted of murder by Justice Garainesu Mawadze sitting at the High Court in Masvingo.

Justice Mawadze ruled that the accused was not mentally stable when he committed the crime.

The deceased children were aged nine months and three years respectively. Phiri also severely injured two other children during his moment of rage.

He was acquitted for reason of insanity in terms of Section 29 (2) (a) of the Mental Health Act [Chapter 15:12], said Justice Mawadze.

Phiri faced two counts of murder and two attempted murder for killing Princess Phiri (3) and Victor Phiri (nine months). Themba and Ropafadzo survived the attack with severe injuries.

A medical affidavit signed by Dr Patrick Mhaka stated that Phiri was psychotic, had auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions when he committed the act. Mhaka concluded that Phiri could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.

Justice Mawadze said Phiri will undergo a final assessment at Chikurubi Prison Psychiatric Unit and the report will be presided over by a medical tribunal to determine if he is fit to be reintegrated back into society or undergo further treatment.

Phiri was supported in court by his two wives and children who all said the incident was shocking and Phiri acted out of character.  They all said that he was a gentle family man and they will create an environment which ensures that he does not relapse. 

Phiri’s second wife Loice Chakauya told the court that she and Phiri were involved in an accident on May 25, 2019 and he had been complaining of migraine headaches and body pains ever since.  Phiri’s first wife is a theatre nurse in South Africa. 

On the fateful day on January 3, 2021 at UB 12 Admin, Mkwasine in Chiredzi at around 6:30 pm, Phiri had an argument with Chakauya over an undisclosed issue. The argument degenerated into a scuffle and efforts by friends to reconcile them were futile.

Chakauya fled away from the house for her safety leaving Phiri with their four children. Phiri discharged a bullet from his MAB pistol inside the house and began banging the children’s heads against the floor.

Phiri also attempted to stab himself and after failing he doused himself in diesel and set himself alight. Neighbours rushed into the house and rescued Phiri and the four children from the fire. The neighbours then rushed them to Chiredzi General Hospital.

Postmortems on Princess and Victor’s bodies were done by doctor David Tarumbwa who concluded that the cause of death was due to head injuries. Themba and Ropafadzo were transferred to Sally Mugabe Central Hospital where it was noted that they had scalp lacerations, depressed skull fractures and facial odema.

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