Septuagenarian challenges traditional leaders’ bizarre custom

A 76 year-old Nyanga man has asked a traditional leader to return his livestock and money which he paid as punishment after his 15 year-old grandson was convicted and fined for allegedly violating an odd traditional custom of wearing red colours during the rainy season.


Fungai Mushonga, the Headman for Tamunesa village in Nyanga District
in Manicaland province on 7 January 2022 took the unprecedented and
bizarre decision in which he ordered 76 year-old Peter Makunura to pay
four goats, two chickens and US$20 after faulting him for allowing his
15 year-old grandson, who had visited him, to wear a red cap during
the rainy season, a practice which is outlawed in the village.

Makunura was also charged for undermining authority of the Headman by
not presenting himself at a primary court session, where he was
supposed to answer to the frivolous charges.

The 76 year-old Makunura has now engaged Kelvin Kabaya and Peggy
Tavagadza of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who recently filed an
application for review of the proceedings presided over by Mushonga
and seeking to set aside the absurd decision of the primary court.

In the application, Kabaya and Tavagadza argued that Mushonga’s
decision to summon a minor child to appear in court without his
guardian and to permit the Messenger of Court to attach and take into
execution Makunura’s property, when he was never a party to the
proceedings and was never summoned to appear in the primary court, was
grossly irregular as to amount to an illegality.

The human rights lawyers also contended that the decision by Mushonga
to enter a judgment in default in circumstances involving a minor
child was grossly irregular as to induce a sense of shock and

Kabaya and Tavagadza want Mushonga’s judgment to be set aside and that
he be ordered to pay back the four goats, two chickens and US$20 to

In his defence, Mushonga, who is opposing the application, argued that
it is taboo in his jurisdiction for his subjects to “wear red clothing
during the rainy season” and that he could not ascertain the age of
Makunura’s grandson for him to realise that he was a minor.

Nyanga Magistrate Notebulgar Muchineripi is yet to hand down judgment
on Makunura’s application.

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