SW Radio Africa (London)

25 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 12 Year Old Dies After Suspected Arson Attack in Headlands

Tensions are mounting in Zimbabwe ahead of a referendum on the new constitution. Opposition leaders have accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of ... ( Resource: Zimbabwe Tense Ahead of Constitution Poll

Christpower Maisiri, the 12 year-old boy who died in a suspected arson attack on Saturday in Headlands is said to have survived two previous arson attacks.

Christpower, the son of MDC-T official Shepherd Maisiri, is expected to be buried on Thursday and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has indicated he will attend the burial ceremony.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti told journalists in Harare Monday the party will approach SADC to deal with the upsurge in violence in the country in recent weeks.

The perpetrators of the attack are believed to be the senior Maisiri's political enemies in the area, who significantly include senior ZANU PF cabinet member, Didymus Mutasa.

Shepherd Maisiri told SW Radio Africa on Monday that his son was born in hiding "on a mountain" after his wife fled their homestead when it was burnt down in 2000. Maisiri is the local deputy organising secretary of the MDC-T in Headlands.

He said his wife was heavily pregnant when on the 2nd of June 2000 the homestead was attacked and burnt to the ground. Owing to the trauma of having to flee during the night, she went into labour and delivered Chrispower prematurely.

In 2008 Maisiri's wife was raped by Lovemore Manenji, a ZANU PF activist who during the same incident broke the boy's leg. Manenji is serving a 65-year jail term after he was convicted for the crime. Maisiri claims it took the police almost two years to investigate the case because of Manenji's powerful links to ZANU PF officials, especially to Mutasa.

Almost a year later on 29th September 2009, the hut Christpower was sleeping in was burnt down. The boy managed to escape but suffered burns on his back.

On 12th November 2010 he again received burns to his buttocks after another hut he was sleeping in was torched by assailants thought to be ZANU PF cadres. This time he escaped before the roof collapsed. After this Maisiri took his son for counselling sessions because he had been so traumatised that he had trouble communicating.

In this most recent attack on Saturday at midnight, four of Christpower's siblings survived after an elder brother sleeping in another hut close by smashed the door open and rescued them.

Maisiri claims he has been the main target of all the arson attacks. In total he said, there have been nine attacks on him and his family since 2000, which he believes is because of his activities on behalf of the MDC-T in the Headlands. Maisiri said: "Mutasa is my greatest enemy and this man has made my life miserable here in Headlands. I don't have any faith in the police doing their work properly. I'm a marked man in this place."

Maisiri went on to elaborate about the attack that occurred on Saturday night: "Last Friday, I was threatened by Gilbert Makura and Isaac Dhogo that they were going to finish me off and barely 24 hours later my homestead is attacked again and this time my son dies in the inferno. It is clear who the culprits are and I've told the police all the names."

At the time his hut was set ablaze on Saturday, Maisiri had gone to Charenga in ward 7 of headlands on a campaign trail. He was alerted to of the disturbances by one of his family members. But by the time he returned home, Christpower had already died in the blaze.

It took police from the Inyati Mine station 19 hours to attend to the scene of crime. Maisiri explained that no arrests have ever been made in the nine times that his homestead has been attacked.

Despite the attacks and fear that Mutasa is behind them, Maisiri is still intending to contest against ZANU PF in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Explaining his determination Maisiri says, "My son has died because of politics. His death will not be in vain. Those that have committed this crime will one day pay but for now I want to give my son a decent burial and I'm happy that our party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he will attend the burial on Thursday."

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