Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:35:48 +0000
The last few months have seen shocking tales of murder in Zambia, with women making headlines for all the wrong reasons. What is causing these women to be caught up in such horrific crimes?
In most African societies, the woman is considered to be the care giver, the glue of the family and most of all, the Mother. To be a mother encompasses many things that are collectively believed to be the epitome of goodness, kindness, love and compassion.
The statistics show lower rates of women committing crimes as compared to their male counterparts. And even when the statistics of violent women still remain lower than that of men, just the fact that the women have been able to commit these crimes, or accused of committing them, has frightened many Zambians and sent many men in a state of panic. All of a sudden, men are coming to realize that they are not as safe as they used to be with the people they thought were their ‘second mothers.’
Needless to say that, the recent number of high-profile killings perpetrated by have shaken the societal fabric that Zambia has believed in for a long time. The nurturing instinct of women is slowly being threatened and questioned not only by the men but fellow women that have equally been appalled by these crimes.
The women have been of different ages, backgrounds, careers and lifestyles. For the sake of this article, I will concentrate on only three women that have grabbed the Zambian headlines in the recent past. And let me be clear from the onset that since all the cases are still in court, I will endeavor not to use any direct examples from the cases as much as possible and probably just make general comments from other cases that are not appearing here today. And for that reason, I will stick to only the reported details and in no way do I advocate for their innocence or guilt. We are yet to hear the facts and full stories in court and it is only then that I shall make direct comments regarding these murders.
The first one to grab our attention in the recent past was Precious Mary Longa Litebele. She allegedly shot her husband after a night out with friends. At first, she tried to implicate the brother in law, but from what we are seeing in the court case now she seems to be the main suspect of this case. The age of this couple, their beautiful pictures together, and the professions of these two individuals shocked everyone when it happened.
They worked at the same bank and Precious was found with a large sum of money when the murder occurred. What would have led such a young, beautiful woman to commit such a heinous crime against her young, handsome husband at such a stage of their lives? The court case is still ongoing and we are yet to learn more from the case.
Just when we were getting over the shock of Precious’s murder allegations, in came Jackline Mwandwe. Jackline is alleged to have run over her husband three times in the presence of their children and domestic workers. Her boyfriend was allegedly in the car with her at the time and was later detained as well.
While Precious has been described as a woman with a hot temper, Jackline has been described as a very quiet person and a church-uniform- wearing kind of Christian. The picture perfect family photo that was shared immediately after the husband’s murder shows a beautiful family and a woman who one cannot even imagine as being capable of such a crime. Mwandwe has since appeared in court for explanation of the charge and is waiting for instructions so that the case proceeds to the high court for trial. We are anxiously waiting to hear what she has to say in court.
Barely a month after the vehicular murder, we woke up to the shocking news that a 21 year old female had stabbed her 46 year old musician boyfriend to death. The musician was married with a wife who was believed to be pregnant at the time of the murder. Yet again, social media went crazy with photos of the wife and girlfriend being pasted all over the various sites and asking how men would leave beautiful women at home.
People claimed that the men were no longer safe in their houses and for those with extra marital affairs, they were also not safe with their girlfriends anymore. We are so shocked with this latest alleged killer that we have not even found out who this woman is yet. The music industry was robbed of a talented musician, the family deprived of a father and husband and the country at large robbed of yet another young man in his prime that could contribute positively to the country’s development agenda in their own special ways.
Do these murderous women start out as good and then unravel later, or is it a case of awakening a sleeping monster? What really is going on? What should we as a country do to help prevent such murders? We need to look in the background of these women and try to understand them. Is it a case of using excess power on a spouse that has originally been abusive or it is the women that have always been abusive in these relationships? People will blame demons, bad associations, character and many others according to their own outlook on life. But what are we going to do to get to the bottom of this?
It is important to note that male violence is different from female violence. As the physically stronger sex, men normally use their physical power to subdue women. They want to prove that they are stronger, in control, more powerful and even unchallengeable. In a male and female relationship, the man’s dominion should be absolute and any maneuver to dispute that can land a female in very serious problems.
The worst part is that this abuse was been culturally accepted for many years and even though women have blown the lid off this abuse, many women still suffer in silence at the hands of the very men that should be their protectors. Some men may even claim to be violent as a way of ‘disciplining’ their women and in most cases they are the aggressors of the violence.
In the case of women, however, their violence is normally a reaction and hence female violence should always be looked at differently from male violence. The 21 year old woman who killed her musician boyfriend even went to report herself after the crime. Did she feel guilty immediately after the crime? Did she know what she was doing at the time of the murder? We are yet to hear more of her once the case commences. None of male or female type of violence is better than the other but to solve each of the different forms of violence, the root cause needs to be established and resolved in the best way possible.
Similarly, when a meek, mild and seemingly quiet Mary Carol Winkler murdered her husband in Tennessee, America in 2006, everybody was shocked and waited to hear what she would say in court. This was despite the fact that many friends and relatives had already observed the signs of abuse and had tried to help out. Covering her face with heavy make-up, she always refused help from friends and made up stories to cover up for the abuse.
At the trial, she wore a wig and shoes that made her look like a prostitute and she claimed that it was what the husband made her wear. The jurors, reporters, church members and the entire courtroom was stunned. She described a lot of humiliating and abusive instances where the husband made her feel so bad about herself. She claimed she was not the only one suffering at the hands of the husband.
Winkler claimed her husband had suffocated the baby and that made her feel like she had to take action. She got a gun in an attempt to scare him and claimed the gun went off and she did not even remember pulling the trigger. Winkler gained national attention because of how the public speculated her motives, mental health and the abuse she faced at the husband’s hands. The brief length of her jail sentence also made a lot headlines and by august 2008, she was given the full custody of her daughters.
Finally, women that have killed before have done so with different motives, and while some may have been motivated by greed or jealousy, among others, there are those that have done so as a last resort to stand up against abuse or humiliation. It is important, therefore, to put on a gender lens as we condemn, insult, and curse these women murderers. In as much as it will not bring back the murdered men, understanding these women may help us find a solution for preventing more men from being killed.