When the Mandedzodzor district in eastern Zimbabwe was renamed Chimanimani in 1982, perhaps the village gods were thinking of Neshiri after all.

Although the 40-year-old Chikurubi maximum security prison inmate had not yet been born by then, Chimanimani’s name resonates with the life he lived anyway decades later.

The name Chimanimani (formerly Melseter) is derived from the Chimanimani Gap – a small pass between mountains that leads to Mozambique.

This gap is famous for mysterious events that locals say have claimed many lives in the past. People who crossed the path simply disappeared without a trace!

Episodes in Anyway’s difficult life can be equated to the aforementioned strange things that are believed to have occurred in the Chimanimani Gap.

He had been missing for 22 years, and his family strongly believed he was dead.

The family searched everywhere for him, even consulting religious and traditional healers in their efforts to solve the problem, but to no avail.

He grew up in his maternal grandparents’ home, and left school anyway when he was still in fifth grade.

He worked for years as a cattle herder and also helped his grandparents.

According to local residents, the young man was disciplined and hardworking.

However, in 2002, she suddenly left home anyway – without informing anyone – and never returned.

Days turned into months and months turned into years as the family desperately searched for him before finally giving up.

According to However, while his family was desperately searching for him, he moved to Chipping, where he became an illegal miner.

He married and had two children. The young man in search of greener pastures left his wife and children in Chipinji and moved to Chiadzwa diamond fields.

He had toiled for years, paying little or no attention to his family – his wife and children – whom he rarely visited.

But one day when he returned home to Chipinge in 2019, he found his wife in bed with another man.

A quarrel ensued and the enraged man went on to kill his cheating wife.

He was arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The five years he has spent so far in prison have been a “living hell” for the murder convict.

Apparently, it is not only the murder case that torments his soul.

Anyway he said he was suffering emotionally too because he had a lot of unanswered questions about his life.

Although the Zimbabwe Prisons and Corrections Service offers rehabilitation programmes, some inmates – like Aniwai – are disturbed by the intense desire to see their families.

The jailed killer has poured out his heart, noting how negatively he has been affected by not having visitors from his family.

But what is puzzling is that these are the same relatives he ran away from when he was still free.

Moreover, he still refuses to reveal the reason for his escape from his family. His relatives also do not know what prompted him to turn his back on them.

“No one visits me here. I don’t even know if my family members are alive or not. They may have died during the Cyclone Idai disaster,” he posits anyway in an emotional interview with The Sunday Mail Society.

“I don’t sleep well at night. I’m stressed out.”

The visibly disturbed prisoner wants to know his father because he believes it will give him the peace of mind he craves.

He also hopes that his family will be able to locate his children and place them in their custody.

The two children are believed to have crossed into Mozambique, where their maternal relatives are said to reside.

“I may be cursed. I want to know my father. Maybe he can help me remove the curse,” he said.

The Sunday Mail traveled to Chikukwa Shopping Center in Chimanimani, where we met Anyway’s aunt, Miriam Nishiri.

According to Maryam, he was anyway raised by his maternal grandparents, Cleaver and Martha Nsheri.

This was after his mother, Rachel, became pregnant by his alleged father, Enoch Majora, who then disappeared without a trace. However, he continued to develop a strong bond with his grandmother, becoming her favorite grandchild.

“Jojo loved him. In fact, he was loved by everyone because of his gentle personality,” Miriam said.

Sekuro Edison Nishiri – an uncle, after all – also spoke glowingly of the inmate.

“We were worried all these years. At one point, I traveled to Chiadzwa where he was rumored to be, but I could not find him. We wanted him back home, dead or alive. Even though we heard he had committed murder, we still Grateful for his return. “As a family, we are grateful and relieved,” Sikoro Edison said.

He was grateful that the Sunday Mail had been able to create a link between his family and their “prodigal son”.

“We are ready to welcome him home if he is released because we are the only family he knows. Every family has ups and downs, so we cannot cling to the past. It is also up to him (anyway) to tell us why he left, otherwise no one will force him to.” .

“We now have a bigger problem to focus on; we need to appease the spirit of the deceased by complying with the family’s demands. Our (Al-Nashiri) family is bitter with his father because he abandoned him and decided to live in the shadows of life.

“We are committed to helping him locate his father, and he should at least make the young man aware of his roots,” Sikoro Edison added.

But other family members interviewed seemed keen to know what prompted him to abandon his roots.

“I want to know why he disappeared and ended up in prison. We will visit him and I want him to answer some of these questions,” said Lauriette Nshiri, another aunt.

With at least three decades to go before he completes his sentence, Lorette said she would anyway advise him to study while he is detained. Despite being a school dropout, he is said to have grown into a quiet, morally upright young man who was admired by many.

Those who knew him as a boy were shocked by the murder charge.

“He was a very quiet, lonely boy who never got into trouble with anyone,” recalls Mathew, a local villager.

Many were left wondering why they never bothered to introduce his late wife to his family.

Al-Nashiri’s family believes their grandmother, who died in 2012, was deeply affected by Aiwai’s disappearance — a development that some feel contributed to her death.

“She was always calling his name, hoping that one day he would come to check on her. She loved him very much. “I think some of the misfortunes that befell him were caused by his grandmother’s bitterness,” Lorette added.

The family of Anyway’s late wife said the deceased would “fight from the grave”.

Azizi – the brother of the deceased – blamed it anyway on the reformation in which he currently finds himself.

“He abused her and neglected her. My sister loved him and we tried several times to convince her to divorce him (anyway). What my sister did was wrong but killing her was not the solution.” my dear

The story, however, is similar to that of thousands of other prisoners housed in various prisons across the country.

In some cases, relatives may not be aware that their family members are imprisoned while others simply ignore the convicts.

In 2023, James Dube, Maxwell Sibanda and Mnsidisi Ncube find themselves in an unexpected predicament.

The prison was their home for more than two decades. The trio had nowhere to go after serving their sentence.

Instead of celebrating their freedom, they found themselves stuck. They were not sure if their families would accept them.

ZPCS hosts “Family Week,” where guests are given the opportunity to freely mix and mingle with their families.

During this time, inmates reconnect with and repair bridges with their loved ones.

But according to ZPCS, many families are not keen on participating in this initiative.

Chief Superintendent Mia Khanyazi, ZPCS spokesperson, is concerned about this lack of interest.

“We held Family Week in December last year, and it was marred by low participation. While economic challenges may play a role, we also noted that some stigma towards perpetrators still exists.

Prison Ministries Pastor Bartson Machengeti noted that family support is crucial to fully rehabilitate inmates.

“Life is not easy behind bars. Despite various efforts by ZPCS, church, NGOs and others to put smiles on the faces of inmates, they still need their families. These prisoners need family love; it gives them a sense of belonging and reduces the burden.” The mental health they endure every day. Regular visits by family members make their rehabilitation process easy and also give them confidence and hope for life after prison. Sunday Mail

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