NOTTINGHAM, UK – A Zimbabwean-born mother died after a traditional herbalist administered a fatal dose of nicotine, a court heard.
Sophia Jekecha, 36, had been unwell for some weeks and complained of stomach pains which prompted her mother to seek out the services of Lyndon Nindi, 49, of Kinross Drive, Newcastle.
Nindi, also a Zimbabwean national, worked as a care worker but also practiced as a traditional herbalist and offered his services to the Zimbabwean community.
Nottingham Crown Court heard the death of Miss Jekecha was in very unusual circumstances.
Nindi was not personally known to her but was engaged by her or her mother to visit her in her Aspley home to perform a traditional healing ritual.
Tobacco in the form of snuff was applied both internally and externally.
The court heard nicotine is toxic to the human body. A fatal dose of nicotine was administered to her and she died at the scene in the course of that ritual.
It was arranged for Nindi to travel by her mother to her daughter’s home in Nottingham and the mother paid him £90 to cover the cost of the train and a further £150 was to be paid after the treatment.
Miss Jekecha’s brother, who lives in Leicester, was contacted before the incident took place and Miss Jekecha asked him to support her through the proceedure.
On February 16, the day of her death last year, Miss Jekecha was at home with her daughter, who is now 18.
Her daughter was upstairs during the procedure and the adults were in the kitchen.
There was straw, sacking, cardboard and a blanket in the floor.
Her brother heard the defendant say to his sister “that things could get bad for her during the treatment but she wouldn’t die,” said Nadia Silver, prosecuting.
Nindi poured snuff powder in his palm and held it to her nose to inhale and, at one point, held her nostrils closed and let go and she inhaled quickly.
The intention, apparently, was to make her vomit.
At a certain point, Miss Jekecha started to feel dizzy and needed to lie down. The defendant put snuff in a glass of water and held it to her mouth and told her to drink it.
“She began to demonstrate signs of increasing distress”, explained Miss Silver. “She started to say she could not breathe.”
Nindi called someone apparently for advice on how to proceed. After speaking on the phone, he applied more snuff to her body but her condition continued to worsen and she became unresponsive.
Nindi made another phone call seeking further advice, telling the man on the phone she was not breathing and asked that person should he call an ambulance and the man said he should.
Nindi called 999 and contacted the ambulance service at 6.45pm. He was instructed to give her CPR over the phone.
Officers were called to the address in Aspley Lane next to King George’s V Playing Fields, Nottinghamshire Live had reported.
The court heard she had an undiagnosed heart condition – there was damage to her heart muscle. Her heart was tragically likely to perform very poorly to a toxic challenge such as one posed by the ingestion of nicotine, the court heard.
Her brother said in a victim impact statement she was a “truly selfless, caring soul”.
Mitigating, James Horn said the defendant did not foresee that his actions administering snuff subjected her to risk of harm beyond making her vomit as part of a traditional healing process. He did not recognise his behaviour was dangerous.
He was taught to use snuff by an experience spiritual healer.
The court heard vomiting purged any spirits inhibiting the body.
Nindi, 49, of Kinross Drive, Newcastle, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter at a court hearing this year.
He also admitted administering poison or a noxious substance to endanger life on February 16.
Judge Gregory Dickinson QC, the Recorder of Nottingham, imposed a two year prison sentence on each charge concurrently, of which he will serve half.
He said: “Lyndon Nindi, on February 16, 2020, you caused the death of Sophia Jekecha. You administered nicotine in the form of snuff in such quantity that her body could not withstand, could not cope with the toxic trauma.”
Source: Nottingham Live