The Herald (Harare)

23 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Chitungwiza Blast: Bodies Removed From Scene

Photo: allAfrica.com
Harare

Bodies of people who died in a mysterious blast in Chitungwiza on Monday were removed yesterday with the dormitory town awash with speculation of its cause. The traditional healer and his clients' remains were taken to Chitungwiza General Hospital for post mortem.

A seven-month-old baby, Kelly Chimina, was also killed in the blast. Two people were injured while four houses were destroyed in the blast. More than 12 houses suffered damages from the mysterious explosion.

Public transport operator and truck driver Clever Kamudzeya, who was said to be consulting the traditional healer - Speakmore Mandere - died in the explosion.

His wife, Svodai, miraculously escaped death after leaving the room moments before the fateful blast. She, however, declined to comment accusing the media of misrepresenting facts.

However, speaking to StarFM yesterday, Svodai, said she saw what could have been lightning before she passed out.

"I was in the other room and they were working in the spare bedroom. I only remember seeing a light before the explosion," she said.

She, however, could not identify the source of the explosion.

Svodai, who was married to Kamudzeya for the past 16 years, said they were consulting the traditional healer for the second time.

"We had consulted him and he identified the source of our problems. We decided to seek assistance from him for the second time before the incident," she said.

The wife said the traditional healer used stones boiled to extreme temperatures, snuff and tree leaves during the cleansing ceremony.

Police have not yet released names of two other men who died in the blast.

While police chose to wait for scientific explanations to the explosion, residents suspected the blast could have been caused by a landmine which Kamudzeya brought to Sekuru Shumba for blessings.

Landmines contain red mercury which has an attractive market.

They said another traditional healer who worked with Sekuru Shumba had advised against the act.

The traditional healer was advised that he did not possess powers to deal with such complex issues.

Sekuru Shumba's former partner is said to have disappeared from the scene to avoid the media. The man, however, said he left the house when Kamudzeya undressed and stood akimbo over a mud pot with some concoctions.

The elderly man, however, refused to be identified before disappearing again yesterday.

Kamudzeya's body was dismembered from the waist, confirming the old man's assertions.

Other residents also had their versions.

Some said Kamudzeya was returning a goblin that he used to enhance his business.

"He had earlier tried to return it to the traditional healer who sold it to him but the asking price was too high for him hence he chose to see Sekuru Shumba."

There was, however, strong suspicion among some with experience with lightning. They insisted the blast was consistent with lightning.

A self-declared practising traditional healer, Morrison Mafuta, declared that the explosion had been caused by lightning.

"I have seen this in Manicaland. This is lightning," he said.

Robert Kamudzeya - brother to Clever - said the family was yet to sit to discuss burial arrangements.

"We will bury him here at Unit L cemetery," he said.

He said his brother had left behind nine children.

His rural home is in Chihota.

Clever's wife refused to comment saying the media had misrepresented facts.

However, all the facts she said had been misrepresented were consistent with family and police explanations.

Sekuru Shumba's father, Mr Swilemu Mandere, said he knew his son as a prophet from the apostolic sect.

He said his son had assisted a lot of people.

Mr Mandere said he was not aware his son doubled as a traditional healer as well.

But when he assembled his son's trade tools he confirmed that some of the items proved he was both a prophet and traditional healer.

He said his son was a prophet in the Emmanuel Mudyiwa's Mudzimuunoyera Sect.

"Church members are gathered at my farm in Centenary. There will be a big send-off for him. He assisted a lot of people," he said.

He denied that Sekuru Shumba was involved in a marital dispute.

"I do not know this other woman. I have only heard about her," he said.

Mr Oliver Dumba, the owner of the destroyed house confirmed he had issued him with an eviction notice.

"I was not happy with his traditional healing," he said.

Chitungwiza Mayor Alderman Philimon Chipiyo said his council would hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the assistance that could be offered to the affected families.

The deceased's families were told to report at Chitungwiza General Hospital to collect their relatives' remains for burial.

Hundreds of residents for the second day running gathered around Ndororo Street in Zengeza 2 to view proceedings at the scene.

The area was, however, cordoned off by the police and members of the Zimbabwe National Army.

The bomb disposal, forensic units and pathologists collected evidence from the scene.

Harare police spokesman Inspector Tedious Chibanda said the cause of the blast was still to be ascertained.

"Investigations are continuing. An analysis will be carried on the material gathered from the debris to establish the cause. The actual cause of the blast is not yet known.

"We urge the public to be patient as we continue with our investigations," he said.

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InFocus

Zimbabwe's 'Horror Blast' Likely a Landmine

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Investigation by police into the causes of the Chitungwiza blast, which killed six people, points to the use of explosives. Read more »