IN a tear-jerking case that has shaken the Headlands community, a woman in the area fatally poisoned her three children -- aged seven, four and three -- and threw their bodies into a well before committing suicide early yesterday morning.
Enia Jinjika of Village 4A in Zambara, also attempted to torch a Toyota Starlet belonging to her husband, Happiness Mhonda (38).
Relatives and neighbours said the 29-year-old woman and her husband had a long-standing dispute over infidelity.
The car, bought from a Harare driving school, was at the centre of the storm.
Neighbours said Mhonda was running a village driving school offering lessons to female teachers.
This did not go down well with Jinjika who accused him of being in love with the teachers, hence the attempt to torch the car.
At one time Jinjika reportedly assaulted a female cop at Headlands Police Station, accusing her of improper liaisons with her husband.
On the fateful day, the car was as usual parked near their bedroom.
In a fit of rage, Jinjika poisoned her children and attempted to torch the vehicle.
She had locked the bedroom door in a bid to trap her drunken husband who was inside.
Moments later, it is alleged that she took the lifeless bodies of her children to a garden about 300 metres away from their homestead and threw them into a shallow well.
Jinjika, who had also gulped an unspecified amount of the poison, which, however, failed to kill her, then hanged herself.
Her body was found hanging from a tree near their garden.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident and said investigations were in progress.
When The Herald visited the couple's homestead yesterday, mourners had gathered, while the deceased's mother-in-law Mrs Elizabeth Mhonda could not hide her emotions.
"I have nothing to say except that I am hurt. Why did she kill my grandchildren?"
Mrs Charity Mhonda described the couple's marriage as having been stormy.
"The two were always fighting with Mai Harrison (Jinjika) accusing her husband of having several girlfriends. On Thursday, Happiness and my husband (Mickius Mhonda) did not sleep at home. Mickius and Happiness had their car parked at the shopping centre where they were drinking beer the whole night," she said.
She added that a visibly angry Jinjika came to her homestead complaining about the issue.
Mrs Mhonda assured her that their husbands would soon return.
Minutes turned to hours and Happiness was nowhere near their home.
This further infuriated Jinjika who bolted to the shopping centre where she had an argument with him. She allegedly bought an unidentified pesticide, which she took home.
Happiness and Mickius later came home in the wee hours of the morning after quenching their thirst.
"This morning (yesterday) at around 6am Happiness, who slept in the same bedroom with their children woke up and failed to locate them. He also discovered Jinjika was also not in the house.
"When he tried the door, Happiness found out that the door to the bedroom was locked from outside," Mrs Mhonda explained.
He then broke the door to get out of the bedroom and immediately saw smoke coming out of his car which was parked near the door.
Mrs Mhonda said: "She tried to use some grass and petrol to burn the car which was parked close to the door. We suspect that she wanted to burn it so that the fire would spread and destroy the hut in which her husband was sleeping."
She said Mhonda informed her that he could not locate his wife and children and they went to inform Headman Ambrose Machemedze.
They teamed up with other villagers to look for the three.
During the search they saw human waste and a trail of vomit they suspected to be that of the children.
Since the initial 30-minute search did not bear any fruit, the villagers went to the garden where they found Jinjika's body hanging from a tree.
They later saw the bodies of the children stashed in the well, 40 metres away from Jinjika's body.
A report was made to the police.
Their bodies were taken to Rusape General Hospital mortuary.
Jinjika's friend, Mrs Hazvinei Gwenzi said she had for long time tried to counsel her but her efforts were in vain.
"She was short-tampered and would search for her husband each time he did not sleep home or came late.
"I remember three weeks ago she told me that she was getting everything from her husband except cash and that the main problem was that Happiness was often not sleeping at home," she revealed.
A neighbour Mrs Margaret Muswera said last Monday, Jinjika told her about a story she had heard on radio of a Harare woman who had set her husband ablaze before committing suicide following a domestic dispute.
"I told her that although it was a sad case, it was not good but she threatened that she would do it one day. I warned her to desist from that.
"I personally think she had planned to do that and the Harare case only set action into motion," she added.
Mrs Muswera said she was shocked to hear about the incident yesterday morning.
Another neighbour, Mr Richence Nyamudeza said whenever he met Jinjika, she would narrate her marital problems with Happiness.
"She would say that he had several girlfriends and that she was no longer interested in staying with him," he said.
Some of the villagers said the couple married in 2003 and since then they had been having misunderstandings.
They said that a few years ago when they were living in Mutare, Jinjika once disappeared with all the property that was in their home following a dispute. They reunited a few days later.
Such crimes of passion have been on the increase countrywide, with police urging people to solve disputes amicably and to seek counselling.
Early this month, a Harare woman set her husband ablaze before committing suicide following a domestic dispute.
Nancy Dzorai (43) of number 18 Whitehall Road, St Andrews Park in Mabelreign was found dead at their gate while her husband Alexious Machimbirike was seriously burnt.
Machimbirike died a few days later after being admitted at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
This week, a 10-month-old baby died after the mother slit its throat before turning the knife on herself in a botched suicide attempt.
Prisca Muchanyu (33) survived but her daughter Chipochashe died of excessive bleeding.
It is suspected that the mother visited a prophet in the town with some relatives who accused her of being a witch and she did not take it lightly.