Moses Chokuda was a Movement for Democratic Change activist who was murdered on 22 March 2009. He became known as the man who refused to be buried following reports that he returned as an avenging spirit.[1]

Chokuda, who, following his death was referred to in the Gokwe as mukomana (the young man), was reported to have tormented two of his murderers (Farai Machaya, Edmore Gana and Abel Maphosa) prompting them to convert to Christianity.


According to the narration at court, Farai Machaya’s shop at Gokwe Centre was broken into by buglers. Machaya and his group then assaulted Isheunesu Sibanda, the duty guard, who implicated Chokuda. They took Chokuda from his homestead and took him to the shop where they assaulted him with booted feet and open hands. In order to save himself from the beatings, Chokuda lied that he had stolen the goods and hidden them. When Machaya failed to recover the goods, they continued to assault Chokuda with logs and iron bars and left him for dead after he had become unconscious. He died the following day on the way to the hospital. Patron Venge, the Gokwe District Medical Officer who examined the body, told the court the deceased had suffered a broken jaw and spine.[2]

High Court Trial Of Murderers

6 Zanu-PF activists were charged with Chokuda's murder:

  • Farai Machaya (aged 30 at the time of the trial)
  • Abel Maposa (aged 45)
  • Edmore Gana (aged 27)
  • Bothwell Gana (aged 25)
  • Obert Gavi (aged 23)
  • Tirivashoma Mawadze (aged 25)

Farai is the son of Zanu (PF) Midlands Governor and Chairperson Jason Machaya. The Gana brothers are the sons of Zanu PF's Gokwe District Coordinating Committee chairperson, Isaac Gana.

In September 2011 High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Matonsi sentenced Farai Machaya, Abel Maphosa, Edmore Gana and Bothwell Gana to an effective 18 years imprisonment. Obert Gavi and Tirivashoma Mawadze were sentenced to a wholly suspended 12-month jail term. The judge ruled that the two had only assaulted the deceased once each with open hands, which did not result in the mortal wound.

Months later, in November 2011 Abel Maphosa was murdered by three inmates he was sharing a cell with. He was reportedly murdered for refusing to join the 3 inmates in their plan to escape from the prison cells.[3]

Avenging Spirit

Following his murder, there were difficulties burying his body, with several attempts reportedly failing. His body remained in the Gokwe Hospital mortuary for two years and seven months after he was killed. His father, Tawengwa Chokuda, told NewsDay that his son was “fighting his own war”.[4]

I was also speculated that the voice of the deceased spoke to his murderers in their homes tormenting them with questions surrounding the impact of this death on his family.

Chokuda's father said he wanted to be paid 15 cattle to appease the spirit of his son before he could be buried. [4]

Jason Machaya eventually paid 35 cattle and US $15,000 to compensate Chokuda's family.

Chokuda's body was finally buried in Gokwe on 29 October 2011[5] after some negotiations between the families mediated by the chief of the area, Chief Njelele.

Historian Phathisa Nyathi, commented on the case:

“It should be a lesson to other people. It shows that if you allow yourself to be used, it does not affect the person who gave the order, but it affects you the murderer. The sender is very safe, and the one who spilt blood suffers. The traditional system worked in this case because in our African culture imprisoning a culprit does not help at all. When such things happen in our culture, what is important is to reestablish the lost equilibrium, the lost harmony, the injured social relations. The Shona have the best solution to this; the operation of ngozi where the murderer has to pay.”[5]


  1. Chokuda: The man who fought his own battle?, NewsDay, Published: 26 Oct 2011, Retrieved: 11 June 2019
  2. Machaya gets 18 years for murder, The Zimbabwean, Published: September 2019, Retrieved: 11 June 2019
  3. Prison inmates kill Chokuda’s murderer, The Chronicle, Published: 28 November 2011, Retrieved: 11 June 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dead man ‘refuses’ burial, NewsDay, Published:04 Feb 2011, Retrieved: 11 June 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chokuda case: Avenging spirits exact justice?, The Standard, Published: 30 Oct 2011, Retrieved: 11 June 2019