REX MPHISA BEITBRIDGE-THE world over and in the Zimbabwean culture, there is general respect for the dead, often their bad deeds forgotten and publicly overlooked.
The Shona people actually have an adage, wafawanaka, which loosely means the evil that people do should be ignored after their demise.
Graveside or funeral wake eulogies deliberately omit all evil deeds and more often than not, the dead are showered with praises.
The deceased’s good deeds are amplified to trigger empathy and often repeated.
But for a Beitbridge man, William, affectionately known as MaWidzo, who died last week, residents described his death as good riddance.
He died a lone man at Masvingo General Hospital, far away from Beitbridge where he was well known only for his seemingly evil life.
There was no funeral wake in his last residential town or anywhere else.
His relatives did not even want to associate with his remains, which were until burial day yesterday kept at the government morgue.
People did not even ask where mourners were gathered.
Yes, most people celebrated his demise and his numerous stories of hard crime, including raping men and women and violent robbery in his territory of Beitbridge and Musina.
MaWidzo was posted on several social media groups in Beitbridge and every other comment frowned at his life and treatment of fellow residents he robbed at will.
One of his most infamous stories was how he found his girlfriend, a commercial sex worker, with someone and he raped both the woman and the man.
“That was MaWidzo for you, a larger than life character. He was rough to the core and a hard criminal who never repented,” a Beitbridge man close to him said.
“He operated between Musina and Beitbridge and his diminutive stature was deceptive. Inside that small stature was a hardened man, crude and as rude as they come. He was central to most robberies in Musina and the areas around Beitbridge,” the man said.
Well known as a pickpocket and rapist who did time for the offence, William survived by vile means and created enemies at every turn.
He frequented the Beitbridge Border Post, where he preyed on unsuspecting travellers with a gang of other nimble-fingered men since the 1990s.
“He raped his newly-found girlfriend who mistook him for a genuine person, but he was rough with her on the very first date and she reported the matter to the police. He was jailed for the offence,” another Beitbridge resident said.
“He was a bad guy, he lived in a bad way and not even the prison term changed him. In fact, he got worse,” the resident added.
Born and bred in Masvingo, MaWidzo later moved to Beitbridge, where he joined other pickpockets who frequented the border post.
Inept security and conniving with unscrupulous officials earned him and his teams big money and they spread operations to Musina targeting those going for shopping.
He later settled in Musina, but would occasionally return to Beitbridge and was regular at an old nightclub at the Mashakada shops of Beitbridge.
Later, he fled Musina, where he was responsible for harassing and robbing fellow Zimbabweans.
His flight from Musina came after he fell out with his live-in lover, after he raped her daughter.
A wanted man in Musina, MaWidzo relocated to Beitbridge, where he eventually became sick and his health deteriorated each day.
His colleagues took him to Masvingo, where his relatives, who all along knew and detested his lifestyle, abandoned him in hospital to die lonely.
“His own relatives refused to accept his remains at their homes. It took his younger brother who came from South Africa to convince relatives to bury MaWidzo. He was rejected by his very own even in death,” a man close to him said.
“His life was sad. He was a criminal no one liked and was laid to rest at a mission cemetery, not his home. Relatives believe spirits of people he wronged should not follow him to their home. In Beitbridge, mixed feelings of his posthumous treatment created a buzz, but generally, he was condemned to the last.
In 2019, chaos broke out at the Beitbridge Border Post when a mob of cross-border drivers attempted to burn a Toyota Quantum carrying the body of a gang leader accused of unleashing a reign of terror against them in Musina.
Border authorities had to call anti-riot police to quell the potentially volatile situation when people tried to violate the remains of Knowledge Mukachana (32) being transported to Chief Chimombe area in Gutu for burial. Newsday