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Murder in a village

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Murder in a village
TIGHT SECURITY: Murder accused, Banoziba Dambe, being taken back to jail

Dambe double murder case gets Kasane talking

At the edge of the country’s vast expanse of desert in the northeastern region sits a picturesque village nestled in riverine woodlands, where wildlife roams free.

Located at the confluence of the mighty Zambezi and Chobe rivers, Kasane is not only the ultimate African safari destination.

This border town of a population of about 10, 000 people is also a cultural melting pot as scores of people from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the three countries it borders, trek here in search of economic opportunities.

There is also a sizable number of local people who have migrated from various towns and cities to Kasane over the years looking for employment, especially in the thriving tourism industry.

One such migrant is none other than Banoziba Dambe, a 42-year-old man from Maitengwe village who has now become Kasane’s most feared, hated and currently most talked about character.

Dambe arrived in Kasane about two decades ago as a young man to take up employment in one of the five-star hotels as a chef.

A few years down the line, the amiable and enterprising Dambe noticed a gap in the market, hung up his chef jacket and started a thriving taxi service.

But as dark fate would have it, last year, the man known as a ‘kind taxi man’ for giving discounts to his clients, charging only P4 instead of the standard P5 fare, became one of the four suspects in a murder case that shook the little village to its core.

Him and his wife, also from the Francistown region, Tiny Dambe, 32 and their two co-accused, Lesedi Khundu and Gaone Matebele 30, were charged with murder, attempted murder and arson for allegedly tossing fire to a house in which Dambe’s Zimbabwean ex- girlfriend and her four children were sleeping, killing the mother and injuring the children.

One of Dambe’s alleged partners in crime, Matebele confessed to the crime in court and turned state witness. The four were released on bail.

This week, Dambe however became the talk of the Kasane town and the object of the villagers’ wrath when he appeared in court again, this time around for the murder of Matebele.

He was re-arrested after information revealed that he was the last person to be seen with Matebele before he went missing a day after their court appearance on March 28th.

Angry villagers turned up in court on Monday baying for his blood and demanding for his release, that they could ‘finish him off’ since the justice system had failed to protect the community from another murder.

In heavy shackles and tight security escort, Dambe was quickly whisked off to to jail, leaving behind a trail of hot gossip and superstitious stories in taxis, in shopping queues and even in restaurants.

“They are going to release him. He has strong muti from Chipingi. I bet you P500; the courts are going to set him free from all the charges because as soon as they grant him bail, he will rush off to Chipingi again to fortify himself. When he gets back he will start giving even bigger discounts in his many taxis to hide his sinister personality and that will endear him to the people of Kasane all over again. That’s the Dambe I know,” said a taxi man as he drove us from the court house into town.

At a restaurant a young waiter serving dinner to a group of tourists later that evening mesmerized his colleagues with a gripping tale of how his uncle nearly became a part of Matebele’s murder.

“My uncle was with Dambe, Matebele and his co-accused Kenosi, that evening, but he got off their vehicle just before they took off into the bushes where Matebele’s corpse was later recovered. He said he had a feeling that something was wrong so he refused to go with them,” said the young waiter.

In a shopping queue at Haskins store a man told a plethora of fascinating stories about how he had refused a P6, 000 offer from Dambe to set fire to his girlfriend’s house.

“ He approached me first before he approached Matebele but I refused. I have even made a sworn statement to that effect to the police,” said the man as he held court in a long queue.

Dambe was expected to be back in court yesterday (Thursday 03) for mention.

Meanwhile the Dambe stories, it seems, will get the conversation going for a long time in a town where the big story on any given day normally revolves around wildlife-human conflict.