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Widower sues mother-in-law for refusing to cleanse him

ZAMBIA – A WIDOWER of Lusaka’s Mutendere Compound is up in arms against his mother-in-law for refusing to conduct cleansing rituals on him following the death of his wife.

In some traditions, widows or widowers cleansing is a ritual which demands the surviving spouse to have sexual intercourse with another person, normally one of their sisters-in-law for men and brothers-in-law for women in order to let the spirit of the deceased rest in peace among the dead.

If this is not done, the surviving spouse will be haunted according to some beliefs.

This is what has caused 45-year old Alpha Banda to sue Emilyn Muleya, the mother of his late wife Caroline Musaka in the Lusaka Boma Local Court.

The grieving widower wants the court to order Muleya to cleanse and free him.

However, as far as Muleya is concerned.

Banda has never been her son-in-law despite having stayed with her daughter for eleven years and bearing her two grandchildren.

“My in-law told me that I was free to go without cleansing because according to her there was no marriage between me and her daughter but merely cohabiting,” Banda told the court, presided over by Senior Local Court Magistrate Bertha Zulu.

Banda said he was surprised that the money he paid towards marriage was regarded as damage and not dowry.

But his mother-in-law insisted that she could not cleanse Banda because he had never married her daughter formally.

She told the the court that the money he was claiming to have paid towards marriage were charges for having impregnanted her daughter twice.

The 60-year old said marriage negotiations where supposed to be made after her daughter delivered her child, but the negotiation never occurred.

” I am not going to cleanse him because he has no written document to show that he paid lobola,” Muleya said.

She further told the court that that a few days after the death of her daughter, Banda stormed her house in New Kasama in the company of three friends around 19:00 hours demanding to be cleansed.

The court could however not immediately pass judgement on the matter saying it was giving time to Banda to bring proof and witnesses to confirm if he had indeed paid dowry.

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