Assailants kill widow as land tussle turns deadly

Police officers carry the body of Zainabu Shiunzi, 56, from her house. She was hacked to death by unknown people at Elwanda village in Mumias on March 21, 2023. 

Photo credit: Shaban Makokha | Nation Media Group

Unknown people took advantage of the Monday night heavy downpour and broke into the house of Zainabu Shiunzi in Elwanda village, Matawa sub-location in Mumias West and hacked her to death.

Residents of Elwanda village woke up to the shocking news of the murder of the 56-year-old widow.

The gang had initially attempted to break the wall of her house from the back, which is adjacent to the road leading to Mwiyala Bridge before they broke the door.

In a calculated move, the gang locked houses belonging to the widow’s grandson, and those of her neighbours from the outside to prevent the occupants from coming out to help the woman.

They then slashed her head with a sharp object and left her lifeless body lying in a pool of blood at the doorstep leading to her bedroom.

Lureko Location Chief Leo Wanzala said the attempt to break the wall of the house was a tactic to make her move out of her bedroom and open the door.

“The area where they attempted to break the wall is adjacent to the victim’s bedroom. This means it was a move to make her come out of her bedroom and open the door so that they would attack her easily,” Mr Wanzala said.

Three houses

In the compound, there are three houses - a kitchen, the deceased’s house and one belonging to her grandson.

The grandson takes care of another neighbour’s homestead and had gone to sleep there when his grandmother was murdered.

The woman’s body was discovered by her six-year-old granddaughter who had gone to pick up her uniform and prepare to go to school.

Mr Patrick Makoye described the woman as a good neighbour who co-existed well with other people and wondered about the motive behind her murder.

“Her husband bought this land about 20 years ago. For the time they have stayed here, they have been good people, she had no problem with anybody around here,” said Mr Makoye.

But some neighbours suspect her killing may have been caused by a land dispute she had with her stepsons.

Chief Wanzala said the family has been embroiled in a longstanding land dispute that was yet to be concluded.

“Her late husband had three wives and bought this land to stay with the deceased around 2013. However, his sons have been demanding a share of this land. At one time, after the death of their father, demanded to subdivide the land and share it among themselves but I directed them to follow the due process of succession,” Mr Wanzala said.

He urged residents with information about the killing of the widow to volunteer it to the police. 

The body was picked up by police officers.