In African traditional culture, especially in Southern Africa, if a woman dies, another woman from the same family where the woman came from can be offered to the deceased's husband as the heir (sarapavana, chimutsamapfihwa or mugari wenhaka).
If it's a man who dies, his young brother becomes the heir in the succession of his late brother's estate (including the wife). However, as modernisation is becoming more predominant and with various sexually transmitted diseases being on the rise, this tradition has been abandoned by many people.
However, the succession issue left members of the Masanga village dumbfounded when a mother-in-law who is a widow and her son-in-law who is a widower became a 'thing' and drover each other crazy like primary school's puppy love.
The spine-chilling development allegedly took place in Zimbabwe where Irene Mazhindu (58) and her son-in-law cum-husband, Chamunorwa Zuze (38), reportedly stole each other's hearts and 'fell' head-first in love. Their 'unacceptable' relationship is said to have been brought to the Chief's attention by the woman's son.
Zuze was once married to Irene's daughter, Abigail Goremusandu, who died nearly 7 years ago. Abigail's father, who was Zuze's father-in-law, died while Abigail was still alive. Zuze had three children with his wife.
Since the mother-in-law and son-in-law had supposedly both become 'free agents', the two are said to have started living as husband and wife. The matter was brought before village chief, and the two lovebirds were fined four beasts.
"This issue was brought before our court. The son-in-law Chamunorwa and his mother-in-law Irene were both present. Irene's son, Raphael, is the one who reported the matter to the chief. Raphael revealed that he caught his mother and the son-in-law sleeping together three times at different places," said Mrs Chivhima.
The son-in-law is said to have owned up and confirmed that he was caught leaving his mother-in-law's bedroom. However he argued that he was only relaxing and resting in his mother-in-law's presence.
"The court found out that the son-in-law and mother-in-law enjoy each other's company in the absence of everyone else up to 1am. They were found guilty and were fined two beasts each," said Mrs Chivhima.
Irene's son, Raphael Mazhindu, confirmed that he caught his mother and his late sister's husband red-handed.
"There is no reason for me to hate my mother. The truth is that she is in love with Zuze, her son-in-law. Can I refer to our son-in-law as 'father'? I caught them red-handed three times. The other time I even drank poison so that I could take my own life. Even when my father died, he knew my mother was in love with Zuze the son-in-law but he just failed to catch them red-handed," said Raphael.
When Our news crew reached Irene for a comment, she said: "My son Raphel 'manufactured' this story because he hates me. He doesn't want me to look after my son-in-law's children. He is lying that he caught me having sex with my son-in-law. His mind has been disturbed by mbanje which he always smokes."
The seemingly controversial son-in-law also denied the claims.
"Yes the court found us guilty but we know nothing. I am in good books with my mother-in-law but we are not in love. I cannot pay the fine since I do not own any cattle except goats," he said.
Despite their denials, Headman Owen Musarurwa (41), said the son-in-law and his mother-in-law both confirmed being in love when he questioned them over the matter.
"We have heard this story since long back when Irene's husband was still alive. Chamunorwa was still living with his wife then. We didn't have evidence over their affair until they were caught red-handed by Irene's son while they were sleeping together in the bedroom," said Headman Musarurwa.