Court Cases


Sample evidence page.




December 16, 1929

Restriction to their Reserves or Districts of Natives convicted of certain grave offences showing them to be unfit to engage in domestic Service.

Memorandum by Chief Native Commissioner for reference when such cases arise.

For guidance in all such cases as those referred to above, I may state that the duration of the period of restriction is arrived at after consultation between the Commissioner of Police and myself. The object of such consultation and agreement is to attain a measure of uniformity throughout the Colony in point of the length of period in these cases, taking into consideration the degree of culpability and so the degree of danger to the community.

It is not intended that the procedure should become so automatic as to deprive a Native Commissioner of the discretion implied in Section 51. Should a Native Commissioner have occasion in any case to question the justice, expediency or scope of such an order in a particular case he should report the circumstances to me.

Chief Native Commissioner

Tribal details of Muza, indigenous juvenile

Tribe Mazezuru

Chief Mangwende

Kraal Gosha

Headman Bute

Father Chipaweta

District Mrewa

This native, a juvenile, has never been issued with a registration certificate and states that he left his kraal to come to Salisbury in March of this year.

Salisbury C.I.D., 16 July 1930.

R.H. Jordan, Detective.

No. 3731, 1930

In the Court of the Magistrate for the District of Salisbury

Holden at Salisbury before Selby Drake Caldecott, Asst. Magistrate

on the 12th day of July 1930

REX vs. Muza, no R.C., Indigenous male juvenile. General servant.

Chaged with the crime of Criminal Injuria in that upon or about the 9th day of July 1930 and at or near Salisbury in the said District, the said Muza did wrongfully, unlawfully and wilfully look through the bedroom window of a certain dwelling house there situate, then occupied by Catharin and Margaret Abbott, the minor daughters of Cortlandt William Abbott, there residing, the said Catherine and Margaret Abbott, being then and there in a semi-nude state, with an indecent, lewd and lascivious intent the said Catherine and Margaret Abbott then and there and thereby to injure and insult.

The Prisoner, being arrainged, pleaded Not guilty.

Judgment Guilty.

Sentence A moderate correction of 6 cuts with a cane.


S.D. Caldecott, Ass't Magistrate


Case No. P.E. 111 of 1930

Court of the Magistrate of Mrewa

Rex vs. Mavunga R.C. K991 Mazoe, adult male indigenous native

Charged with the crime of Fraud in contravention of Sec. 9 of the "Witchcraft Suppression Ordinance of 1899", in that upon or about the 21st day of May 1930 and at or near the kraal of native Mateko in the said District, the said Mavunga did wrongfully and unlawfully and fraudulently receive from one Makumbarenga the sum of eight shillings by way of payment for the pretended exercise of witchcraft, to wit, the throwing of bones, to indicate the person supposed to have caused by non-natural means the death of one Mushoko.

The Prisoner, being arraigned, pleaded Guilty.

Sentence, 3 months in hard labour.

From the preparatory examination, Rex vs. Mavunga

Jumbo: I am a native constable stationed at Mrewa. I know the accused. He is a male adult native of Mazoe Native District. On the 21st May 1930, I was on patrol at Patsikai's kraal. Acting on information received from Chaumvuka, I proceded to Mateko's kraal of this district, and there arrested the accused for receiving from Makumbarenga the sum of 8/- for throwing the bones to ascertain the cause of death of one Mashuka. Accused after being duly cautioned by me in the usual manner declared "I recieved only 4/6".

No questions.

From the preparatory examination, Rex vs. Mavunga

Makumbarenga: I am a native of Chitemereri's kraal this district. I know the accused. He is a native witchdoctor. On 13th May 1930 my nephew died. His name was Mushoko. On 21st May 1930, I proceded to Mateko's kraal this district and met the accused there. I was accompanied by my nephew Kanyemba. I asked the accused if he was a witch-doctor. He said yes. I asked him to 'throw the bones' and ascertain the cause of my nephew Mushoko's death. He agreed if I paid him 8/-. I then paid him the 8/0 and he proceeded to 'throw the bones'. Kanyemba and Mateko were present. After accused had 'thrown the bones' the declared to me that the spirit of my sister had caused the death of Mushoko. Accused told me that I must propitiate the spirit of my sister by sacrificing a beast to her.

Reply to cross-examination by accused: No, you did not refuse to 'throw the bones'.

From the preparatory examination, Rex vs. Mavunga

Kaneymba: I am a native of Nzungu's kraal this district. On 21st May 1930, at the request of Makumbarenga, I accompanied him to Mateko's kraal this district for purpose of consulting the witch doctor, Mavunga the accused who I now identify. We met the accused and accused agred to 'throw the bones' for Makumbarenga on payment to him of the sum of 8/-. Head of kraal Mateko was present also. Accused then 'threw the bones' after which accused declared that Makumbarenga's nephew Mushoko's death had been caused by the spirit of his sister and that Makumbarenga should sacrifice a beast to the spirit.

Reply to cross-examination by accused: Yes, you were paid the sum of 8/- by Makumbarenga to throw the bones to ascertain cause of Mushoko's death.


Indictment as follows:

Raguma, male adult indigenous native, is charged with the crime of murder (2 counts) and attempted murder at Mrewa in the district of Mrewa, 1941, in the presence of Frederick Alexander Marr, NC for the said district...

On or about the 2nd day of December 1940 and at the Mangwende Kraal in the district of Mrewa, the said Raguma did wrongfully and unlawfully and maliciously discharge a firearm with intent then and there and thereby to kill and murder Mangwende, a native there residing, and thus the said Raguma did wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously attempt to kill and murder the said Mangwende. Secondly. the said Raguma did wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously kill and murder Mbumbira, in his lifetime a native there residing. Thirdly the said Raguma did wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously assault Josiah; in his lifetime a native there residing, and did then and there with a firearm wound him in his arm and body, giving to him and there and thereby certain mortal wounds, bruises, injuries and hurts, from the effects of which said mortal wounds, bruises, injuries and hurts upon or about the 5th December 1940 and at Salisbury, the said Josiah died; and thus the said Josiah the said Raguma wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously did kill and murder.

Raguma's statement after hearing this indictment:

I add to the statement which I made to the Police by saying, 'I sold one of the beasts mentioned for [can't quite read the amount] and gave the money to Mangwende who holds it still.' Now for this action of mine all my family will have to leave the neighborhood and the lands which they worked.

Testimony of Raisa

Raisa, native female indigenous wife of Josiah Morris, since deceased, knew accused. He is related to my deceased husband. Remember night of Monday 2.12.40. Our house is about 600 yards from Chief Mangwende's and further still from that of Bumbira. After supper that night my husband, one Dzudzwa and I were standing outside our hut. The men were on one side of hut and I could see them. Accused approached, running, I asked, 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am Raguma. Josiah I have shot your uncle, I can shoot Manji.' I heard the report of a gun and saw a flash of fire. Accused was facing Josiah and flash was in latter's direction. Josiah remained standing, caught hold of accused, pulled him for a distance. Nothing spoken. I was very close and now noticed that accused had a shot gun, similar to this (Ex. C) Accused broke and ran away. Josiah screamed, 'I am dead'. In the meantime one Samuel had arrived and he and I helped put Josiah in hut. In company with others I took him to Mrewa Native Hospital that night. Next morning I saw him taken away on a car. He was alive. After his encounter with accused, I noticed Josiah had a wound on right elbow. He bled profusely.

Confession of Raguma, taken on December 3rd, 1940

I am a male adult indigenous native cousin of Chief Mangwende and Josiah and live at Mangwende kraal.

When Muchemwa, the father of Chief Mangwende, died, his brother Gomba took the wife of Muchemwa. Gomba was my father. Muchemwa only had one daughter from my mother when he died. After the marriage of Gomba and the wife of Muchemwa, I was born. When Muchemwa died he had not completed the lobolo payments for his wife to his father-in-law. Gomba finished the lobolo payments. Then two daughters were born, Erica and Ethel. Gomba died and Zihute took the four wives of Gomba. Zihute was a brother of Gomba, but of a different mother. When Zihute died, Mangwende and Enoch changed their kraal. Mbumbira was not at this kraal. Mangwende and Enoch looked after me and the others who were left by Gomba. When the mother of Mbumbira died my father Gomba took Mbumbira and gave him to my mother to look after. When Zihute died, Mbumbira did not stay with my mother, but went away. When I was a small boy I tried to build myself a hut and my mother helped me.

When Erica grew up she married Nathaniel Machakairi, and lobolo paid was 10 pounds and 9 head of cattle and this was given to my mother to look after. Mangwende said that his herd-boy would look after my cattle as well as his own. Ethel married Dennis Makwembere and 8 pounds and seven head of cattle were paid in December 1939. One of the heifers of Dennis Makwembere ran to my herd, Mangwende said I was to pay dipping fees for it. When I wanted to marry, Mangwende and Enoch found a Munyai for me Joseph Gotora. When my father-in-law came to the kraal he said that he watned some cattle. Mangwende asked me which cattle I wanted to give to my father-in-law, I chose some cattle and gave them to Enoch and said that they were the cattle to be given to my father-in-law. I took my wife by native custom to live with. Mangwende gave one head of cattle to be killed in celebration of the marriage. When the lobolo cattle for Ethel came Mangwende and Enoch asked the Munyai to give 5/- to them to show that they were lobolo cattle. The Munyai said that the 5/- and 1 pound had been taken from him by Mbumbira by force. They said that it did not matter that Mbumbira had taken the money by force Mbumbira will have to give you the money back. Mangwende and Enoch sent the cattle back.

I left the kraal to go to Salisbury where I obtained work at Meikles Hotel during Christmas 1939. I went to get money to pay the dipping fees for my cattle. When I returned to the kraal, Mangwende told me that the cattle had been sent with 5/- and told me to drive the cattle to the kraal. He said that one head was at the kraal and other seven were at Makwembere kraal. I went to Makwembere kraal and asked for the 7 head of cattle but I was only given 6, so I returned without the cattle and told Mangwende. He told me to drive the 6 head to our kraal and that he would see Dennis Makwembere. Mangwende then left the kraal to go to Domboshawa School.

When he returned [from Domboshawa] I went to his house with another native called Msora. I saluted him, but he did not answer me. I went away, and visited by sister (half-sister) Emma. She said that she had seen Rachel, the sister of Mangwende, and had asked why Enoch and Raguma had joined together in hating Mangwende. I said that I had not done so. I left her and went to Chief Mangwende's house and asked him why he had not answered my salute on the previous day, and to tell me what the trouble was. He said that there was no reason. I told him that his sister Rachel had told my half-sister Emma that I hated him. He told me that Enoch, Simon, Petros and I had spoken against him. I said that we four had been together on Good Friday but that we had not spoken against him. He said 'If you want to do anything, do it quickly, for if you are late I will do something first.' I said, 'I have nothing to do,' and I left.

The following day I went to the lands and returned in the evening and went to Mangwende's house. I saw Mangwende in the kitchen and I saluted him. He answered my salute. I was thirsty and went towards a pot of water. Mangwende said that he did not want me to touch his water as he was afraid that I would put medicine in the water to kill him. Chitongo who was present pushed me away from the water, I told him not to push me and asked him to get a cup and give me water, he did so. I asked if he really meant that he was afraid that I would put medicine in his water to kill him, he said that he was. He told me to go away and that if I did not do so he would hit me. He said that he did not want to see me again, I said good-bye and left.

I waited a month expecting to be called by Mangwende to tell me what I had done wrong, and then I heard a rumour that all my cattle which had been looked after by Mangwende had been given by him to Mbumbira. I went ot Mangwende and asked him for my cattle which I would look after myself as he apparently did not want to lok after them himself. Mangwende told me that the cattle had been given to Mbumbira, and that if I wanted to complain he would allow me to do so. I went to see Mr. Beck and he called Mangwende to the office. Mr. Beck said that i could not have the cattle to look after myself as Mbumbira was still alive. I told Mr. Beck that the cattle were mine having come to me as lobolo from my sisters Erica and Ethel, and asked how the cattle could belong to Mbumbira as I had been paying the dipping fees, and when Mangwende's sister Agnes had died Mangwende had come to me and asked for one head of my cattle for the funeral ceremonies, and when he Mangwende had been appointed Chief he had sent Enoch to me asking for a beast in order to feed the people who had come for the installation ceremony.

When Enoch had come to me for this beast I had said that I did not want to do so as I would soon have to sell a beast in order to pay the dipping fees. Mangende had said then that he would pay the dipping fees for me, and I had given him the beast. When I had explained all this to Mr. Beck, he hold me to go back to my kraal. I was not satisfied so I went to see Mr. Marr. Mr. Marr told me to get 10/- as hearing fees, the next morning I came with this money to Mr. Marr. I explained my case to him and he told me that he would let me know his decision later. We went away and three weeks later came back to the office where Mr. Marr said that he had come to his decision and that if I wish to appeal against it I would have to pay 2 pounds 1 shilling. He then told me that I had made a mistake in bringing the case against Mangwende and that I should have brought the case against Mbumbira, and as a result I had lost my case.

I gave Mr. Marr 2 pounds 1 shilling and told him that I wanted to appeal against the decision. Some time later I went to Salisbury where my case was tried by Mr. Simmonds and here I was told the same as Mr. Marr had told me, that is that I should not have brought the case against Mangwende but against Mbumbira. I was told to return to Mrewa where I would receive my 2 pounds back. I was very angry that everyone seemed to favour the Chief and decided to take action myself. On Saturday 30th November 1940 I went to the grain hut of Enoch to find his gun, I searched but could not find it. I thought that Enoch might have given the gun to his sister Marumba to hide for him. On Monday 2nd December 1940, Marumba went to a beer-drink in her lands and I went to her grain hut taking a key with me. There was no one at the huts when I arrived. I tried to open the lock of the grain hut with my key but it was too big. I filed the key until it was small enough and then opened the lock and went inside the hut. I lit a match and searched in the grain bins and found the gun.

I took the gun and went outside the hut, then closed and locked the door. I hid the gun in a kopje and in the afternoon I went to Mrewa Village and bough some meat at the store. I returned to the kraal and saw Ellen Tumwe and gave her the meat and told her to give some of it to my wife. When my wife returned Ellen Tumwe took the meat and went to give it to my wife. I went to Ellen Tumwe's hut and she was not there. I opened a box in the hut and found four cartridges which I took. I had my evening meal with Msora and told him that I had a stomach-ache, and went to my hut to get my hat. I then went to get the gun, I was angry because Mangwende had taken my cattle and had refused to see me, his brother. I went in the direction of Mangwende's house, before reaching there I took off my shoes. I went to his kitchen and saw him sitting on a chair, I shot him. I then went away leaving my shoes. I heard Titus shouting that his brother Mangwende was dead. I went to where Mbumbira lives and saw him asleep in his hut. I called 'are you Mbumbira', he said 'yes', I told him that I had shot his young brother, because he had taken my cattle by force and that I had come to shoot and kill him also, he tried to get up and I shot him. I left his hut and went to the hut of Josiah. He was outside his hut with Titus Makwembere and I told Josiah that his lies were finished today because he had joined with others in hating me and had told Mbumbira that my cattle were now his. I then shot at him. I then went near the Mrewa Dip Tank where I stayed for a while and then when to Makwembere kraal where I told Mwani that she must go and cry for her brother whom I had killed, I also told Ngonya. I then came to the Police Camp at Mrewa sayinig to myself that I must now die myself as the European will not take my case in the right way. That is all I have to say.

Native Commisioner Beck, Mrewa District, September 8, 1944. Reply to a questionnaire about chiefly succession.

In the case of Chief Mangwende the present man was not outside the succession but he really had not the prior claim as the attached letter shows. It contains sufficient details to make it unnecessary for me to comment on the reasons for the choice. I may say though, that I consider Mr. J.L. Oliver then Native Commissioner made a bold and courageous choice, which has been fully justified by subsequent events. Mangwede is a man of outstanding personality. Whether the choice would have proved so satisfactory had the present Chief been less able I am not prepared to say. For a time after his appointment Rota, the prior claimant, with a big following was aggrieved and did not 'Wombera' to the Chief but has since done so. There was a faction feeling for a time but it died down in 1940 when Chief Mangwende had a miraculous escape from sudden death. Raguma, a younger relative of his and younger brother of Enoch the Nevanji discharged a Shot gun at Mangwende at point blank range and only blew his hand off. The people's comment on the occurance was that obviously the spirits must find Chief Mangwende acceptable as Chief as otherwise how could he have survived?