An elderly Gweru woman fainted in court yesterday after her daughter confessed to strangling her newborn baby with the assistance of her two friends.
The drama which took place in Court Two forced magistrate Judith Taruvinga to briefly adjourn court proceedings when the mother of Helen Mugariri who is facing a charge of infanticide started weeping uncontrollably before collapsing while her daughter was giving evidence.
Taruvinga adjourned court proceedings for about 10 minutes as Mugariri’s mother was taken outside where she later regained consciousness.
Helen told the court that Carol Hamandishe and Agrita Jiti assisted her to kill her baby and on hearing this her mother collapsed.
Mugariri, Hamandishe and Jiti, all of Mkoba 20, are facing charges of infanticide.
The three are denying the charge and were remanded in custody to May 7 for continuation of trial.
In her defence, Mugariri said she did not intend to kill her baby but her friends made her commit the crime.
She said her friends told her that looking after the baby was going to be difficult for her since she was a single mother who already had two kids that she was struggling to look after.
Mugariri said her friends found her after she had just given birth in her room with the baby still in between her legs at her lodgings in Mkoba 20.
“Hamandishe and Jiti found the baby still alive and the umbilical cord was still attached to it. Jiti strangled the baby and covered it with a comforter. I then noticed that the baby was no longer breathing and that’s when I discovered that the baby was dead,” she said.
Prosecuting Daniel Tafuma told the court that on March 25, Mugariri who was pregnant felt labour pains and asked Hamandishe to look for her landlady Sarudzai Chipfunde to come and assist her.
He said when Hamandishe could not find the landlady, she proceeded to Jiti’s house in the same neighbourhood. Tafuma said Mugariri gave birth alone while her friend, Hamandishe, was still at Jiti’s house.
“During Hamandishe’s absence, Mugariri’s friend Sibonokuhle Simango arrived looking for her and when she knocked at the door she was called by Mugariri who was lying on the floor covered with a blanket,” he said.
Tafuma said Simango heard a baby crying from Mugariri’s blankets and went on to congratulate her.
He said Mugariri only replied “zvakaoma” (kunzima).
“Simanga then left and met Hamandishe outside and told her that the accused had given birth.
Hamandishe then went back and told Jiti and Chipfunde that Mugariri had just given birth,” said Tafuma.
He said Hamandishe, Jiti and Chipfunde entered the room and found Mugariri strangling the baby with a blue towel wrapped around the baby’s neck.0
Tafuma said Mugariri then placed the baby in a plastic bag. He said Chipfunde went and reported the matter to the police.
“An ambulance was summoned and Mugariri together with her baby’s body were taken to Gweru Provincial Hospital. The baby was certified dead at the hospital,” said Tafuma.