The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Hijacks Funeral

MDC-T has hijacked the funeral of Christpower Maisiri (12) of Headlands, who died in an inferno last Saturday night amid calls by Cabinet for law enforcers to get to the bottom of the fatal incident. Preliminary police investigations have ruled out foul play.

Yesterday, MDC-T supporters erected a barricade on the road leading to the deceased's homestead.

Posters campaigning for their party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai could be seen all over.

However, in a statement yesterday, Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu said Cabinet had instructed law enforcers to investigate the matter.

"At its meeting held on 26th February 2013, Cabinet learnt with grief and shock of the tragic death of 12-year-old Christpower Maisiri, following what appears to be an arson attack at the family homestead in Headlands on Saturday 23rd February 2013.

"Cabinet urges the law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of this fatal incident which has robbed the Maisiri family of a lovely son who was a gift to this nation. On behalf of Cabinet, I convey deepest condolences to the Maisiri family over this sad loss.

"The nation may wish to know that Cabinet has directed the Co- Ministers of Home Affairs to institute thorough investigations through the relevant arms so that the nation gets full facts surrounding the incident and for justice to be done.

"Our society is founded on the principle of sanctity of life and any actions that are shown to undermine this sacred principle will attract the full weight of the law."

MDC-T supporters yesterday denied Herald newsmen entry to the deceased's homestead, though they allowed the private media access.

"Where are you coming from? Go back. We do not need you here," shouted the MDC-T supporters.

Christpower died in a fire that engulfed a hut he was sleeping in and police have since launched investigations into his death.

MDC - T is accusing Zanu-PF of committing the offence.

However, Zanu-PF has dismissed the allegations as baseless, malicious and offensive.

The party believes the incident was staged by MDC-T to try and put Zimbabwe on the international spotlight as the country heads towards elections.

PM Tsvangirai is expected to attend Christpower's burial today.

Although MDC-T is ascribing the fire to political violence, villagers here are thinking otherwise.

"There are no political activities happening here at all at the moment. It has been quite calm and peaceful here," said one of the villagers staying close to the Maisiri homestead.

Teachers at Ruura Primary School where Christpower learnt confirmed that the political environment in the area was peaceful.

"We were all shocked by the boy's death. We last saw him on Thursday. He did not come to school on Friday as we were having inter-schools sport competition at Inyathi Mine. We are shocked by the death because it is very peaceful here and we do not remember the last time there were political activities here," said a teacher who cannot be named for professional reasons.

Information gathered by The Herald indicates that Christpower, who was in Grade 4 at Ruura Primary School, was partially disabled and had down syndrome.

He struggled with his speech and could neither read nor write, it was revealed.

President Mugabe has also expressed concern over the resurgence of political violence.

On Tuesday he directed the police to arrest all perpetrators of political violence regardless of their social standing.

There have been reports of isolated cases of political violence in some parts of the country.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said from what they had gathered so far there was no foul play suspected.

"At the moment we cannot point fingers at anyone. This emanates from our preliminary investigations so far which indicate that no foul play had taken place.

"Basing on our preliminary investigations there is no pointer or clue to suggest that the incident was politically motivated," he said.

Supt Mandipaka said apart from the preliminary investigations, police had launched thorough investigations to ascertain the real cause of the death.

"Right now investigations are in full swing. We have embarked on thorough investigations because we need to get to the bottom of the incident by all means," he said.

Supt Mandipaka said the boy's body had been taken for post-mortem examination to ascertain the real cause of the death and police were waiting for the report.

The boy died in an inferno that gutted a grass-thatched hut he was sleeping in with his siblings.

Survivors from the inferno are James (17),Munashe (15),Panashe (11) and their sister Tinotenda (9) Maisiri.

President Mugabe on Tuesday told the Commissioner-General of the Police (Augustine Chihuri) that police must account for all cases of politically-motivated violence regardless of the status of those involved.

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