“THEY must die at 10 PM!” the man kept chanting to himself as he waited in the darkness outside his parents’ bedroom.
Lisani Nleya (45) repeated the mantra as he led police on indications on Tuesday, explaining how he killed his elderly parents on September 1 last year.
The self-confessed killer appeared remorseless as he said his father Nicholas Cain Nleya (83) and his mother Margaret Nleya (78) deserved to die because they were bewitching him to enrich the rest of the family.
His insistence on 10PM has led to speculation that the killing could have been ritually motivated.
The elderly couple were allegedly tortured to death before their bedroom was set on fire and blow up with explosives, charring the bodies beyond recognition.
The chilling killing at the Nleya homestead in Empandeni, Mangwe District in Matabeleland South Province, horrified the country.
Lisani was the complete opposite of the stereotype of a villainous killer as he swaggered into the homestead in leg irons, handcuffs and about 10 police officers — two armed with AK 47 rifles — guarding him.
Wearing white jeans, blue tackies, a brown jacket and a black face mask, Lisani looked relaxed.
He towered above most of the police officers.
Born the seventh out of 10 siblings — four boys and six girls — Lisani, the youngest son, is an army deserter who served in the DRC war.
He is said to have been an explosives expert in the army.
There was palpable tension when he came face-to-face with four of his siblings for the first time in 15 years after he cut ties with his family and moved to South Africa.
Lisani appeared to enjoy narrating how he killed his parents.
To him they were witches and not parents.
The only way to deal with them, he said, was to kill them.
“Everything was supposed to start at 10pm,” he repeated almost to himself.
Lisani said he was by the window through which he entered the house at 9:50pm.
“I used five minutes to recount all the pain my parents had put me through and the last minute to countdown to 10pm,” he said, explaining how he psyched himself up to carry out the ruthless double murder.
His three sisters and one brother had an opportunity to confront him about his actions.
One of his sisters, in an emotional moment, told him his mother was longing to hug him when he finally returned home after his 15-year absence, but he rudely responded saying: “Engaging yena wayengiloya? (Why would she want to hug me when she was bewitching me?)”
Lisani would visit Zimbabwe during the 15 years he never visited his family. He would stay at a house in Bulawayo’s Emakhandeni suburb but he never contacted his family.
During his narration, his sister, Sindisiwe, appeared stunned and had crossed her hands on top of her head. Lisani’s brother, Edmund, just folded his hands on his chest in disbelief while the other two seemed like they were under a heavy sedative.
After a brief discussion between the family and investigators, Lisani was put back inside one of the two police cars and they left for Plumtree.
A probe into his past revealed he fathered two children with different women.
“He grew up like all normal boys. He went to Embakwe Secondary School where he did his O-levels after which he joined the Zimbabwe National Army in 1999. At school, he was very bright and had a very good handwriting. Before you read what he wrote, you would first admire his neat handwriting.
But I really do not know what transformed him; I ask myself daily what happened and I can’t find answers,” said his brother Edmund.
Edmund said his father once tried to spiritually cleanse his brother, thinking his behaviour emanated from his time in the DRC war but Lisani refused.
“That’s when he started accusing mum and dad of bewitching him,” he said.
Lisani deserted the army in 2004 and left for South Africa.
Director of Army public relations Colonel Alphios Makotore said Lisani was discharged for desertion in 2004.