Open verdict on mother who died in river drama

a WOMAN who died after being pulled from a river was worried about financial matters and her husband being out of work – and on the day of her death said she had seen the spirits of dead people, an inquest has heard.

The hearing in Derby was told Benedict Manangazira, 38, of Millers Way, Milford, told her husband Eddimore on the day she died that she had seen the spirits of dead people.

The mother-of-three was seen by witness Patricia Ashton going into the River Derwent, in Milford, at around 8am on Saturday, March 19. She was pronounced dead at the Royal Derby Hospital at 9.40am the same day. The inquest heard the most likely cause of her death was from immersion in water.

Mrs Manangazira had complained of feeling unwell, before telling her husband that she saw evil spirits. The inquest heard this was specifically linked to Mr Manangazira’s cousin’s wife, who had died.

Mr Manangazira said he wanted to contact his wife’s family about the comments but she said no. He told the inquest his wife had spoken about evil spirits when the family was living in Spain in 2008.

Assistant deputy coroner Paul McCandless: “She believed spirits were out to harm her and her family.”

After telling her husband about the spirits, Mrs Manangazira, who was born in Zimbabwe, got dressed and left the house.

Mr Manangazira said because his wife was in the habit of going for walks, he didn’t think anything of it. She was then seen running on the path alongside the river by Mrs Ashton, who said: “As she got level with my house window she slightly turned her head to the right. I noticed she had a smile on her face and her eyes were quite bright.”

Mrs Manangazira, a non-swimmer, then turned and ran towards the river. Mrs Ashton said: “She put out her arms and went straight into the river.”

Mrs Ashton’s neighbour Suzanne Moffatt said she saw Mrs Manangazira “flailing” in the water for a matter of seconds and dialled 999.

“She went very still, very quickly,” said Mrs Moffatt. “She was face down in the water and I knew she was not moving.”

Police officers attached to ropes got to Mrs Manangazira in the water and tried to resuscitate her. She was then taken to hospital.

The inquest heard from Mrs Manangazira’s sister, Tendai Rera. She said she received a text message from her sibling two days before her death which said ‘look after my kids. If you can’t, give them to my mum’.

In summing up, Mr McCandless said: “She was generally a cheerful lady, a helpful and outgoing lady. She loved her children and her husband. She was a loving lady, and on occasions a resourceful lady.”

Mr McCandless returned an open verdict and added: “I cannot be satisfied it was her intention to end her own life.”