SW Radio Africa (London)

25 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Suspects Questioned Over Chitungwiza Blast

Police investigations into the explosion that killed five people in the Zengeza suburb of Chitungwiza on Monday took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, as the Law and Order division picked up several suspects for questioning.

The blast happened at the home of local traditional healer Speakmore Mandere, who died along with kombi operator Clever Kamudzeya and seven month old Kelly Chimina, who was reportedly asleep in one of the rooms. Two others have not been identified, but one was believed to be a businessman.

According to the Daily News newspaper, police sources had revealed that the suspects picked up by police include the wife of a businessman who died in the blast, an aide to the late traditional healer Mandere and a third person yet to be identified. The three were reportedly taken in for questioning Wednesday.

A police spokesman told the paper that "senior level" officers would work closely with the army's bomb disposal units and forensic experts, as the matter is now being treated as a serious security issue.

It is not yet clear just what happened at the premises at number 4, Ndororo Street in Zengeza, but Job Sikhala, former MP for St Marys and MDC99 president, said forensic experts visited the scene and told the state run media that the explosion was most likely caused by a bomb.

"The current explanation we are getting is from military experts like Brigadier General Felix Muchemwa who recently said that there is no way this could have been black magic lightning. He suspects from substances they found that the blast was the result of a bomb," Sikhala told SW Radio Africa.

Sikhala added that despite this information from experts, many people on the street still believe that there may have been other forces at play, including traditional practices that went wrong or unsatisfied clients using black magic to get revenge.

The event has fuelled a rash of comments and discussion on social networking sites, as well as jokes about witchcraft and black magic. Sikhala said Zimbabwean humour has taken over and many jokes were making the rounds.

Meanwhile Liliyosa Nyawata, the 17-year old wife of the late healer Speakmore Mandere, made headlines this week while speaking from the mortuary at Chitungwiza General Hospital, where his remains and those of the other deceased were still being kept.

The young Nyawata told a harrowing tale of how she had just arrived back home after going to fetch water with the kombi driver's wife and two other women, when the explosion shook the neighbourhood.

She found herself "tucked into a refrigerator" where she got an electric shock before managing to escape outside. Her husband was on the ground motionless and bleeding from the nose and mouth. She said he was still breathing in the ambulance and may have survived if they had attended to him at that point.

Nyawata told the Daily News she had eloped with Mandere only three weeks ago and they had started to build a home at that location a mere ten days before the explosion.

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