Report by Michael Chideme
CHITUNGWIZA – The Zengeza traditional healer’s 17-year-old wife opened up yesterday saying she felt electric shock in the blast that claimed her husband and four other people on Monday afternoon. The cause of the blast has not yet been established.
Ms Liliyosa Nyawata, the traditional healer’s wife, said that her husband could have survived the explosion had he been attended to earlier. The couple had been together for a couple of weeks.
Speaking at Chitungwiza General Hospital mortuary where she joined the Mandere family to collect Speakmore Mandere’s remains, Ms Nyawata said she had eloped to the traditional healer three weeks ago. The couple had stayed at 4 Ndororo Street for only 10 days.
The families had not yet collected the bodies late yesterday afternoon. They, however, indicated that they would bury their relatives today. The traditional healer died together with four other people who include kombi operator Mr Clever Kamudzeya, baby Kelly Chimina and two unidentified men.
Nyawata said she had just arrived at the house when the incident occurred. She was with Kamudzeya’s wife and two other women when the explosion occurred. The women had gone to fetch water for domestic use in the suburb. They had used Kamudzeya’s vehicle to fetch water.
“When we got home there were some people intending to see my husband. They wanted to be attended to,” she said. Nyawata said as she put the last bucket into the house she heard a huge blast and found herself “tucked into a refrigerator”.
“I got some electric shocks. I finally managed to escape. Once I was outside I looked for my husband. I saw him lying motionless outside. He was bleeding from the nose and mouth but was still breathing,” she said.
She said as the ambulance took her to the hospital she told the crew that her husband was still breathing, but they ignored her. Nyawata said when the blast occurred there were eight adults in the house. Four women were in the dining room while the men were in another bedroom.
“I had stayed with him for three weeks. We were planning to get a traditional marriage,” she said. She dismissed reports that there was a dispute between her and her ex-husband only identified as Shumba. She said her ex-husband was from Mberengwa and works for a Harare car dealer.
“I had a child with him when I was 14 years old. He paid part of the lobola but I decided I could not stay with him because of the ill-treatment I got. I left him in October,” she said.
She said she met Mandere when she had returned to her parents’ home in the same suburb. Nyawata dismissed as fictitious reports that her ex-husband had been deported to Malawi and was seeking revenge.
Across town in St Mary’s at the Kamudzeya family, friends and relatives were gathered and preparing to travel to Watambwa Village in Chihota for the burial. Robert Kamudzeya, an elder brother to Clever, said the family was still not aware of what had caused the blast.
“We are concerned about the media reports. We are sure the incident had nothing to do with lightning,” he said. His son Tichaona said the family was devastated by the death of a “loving and caring father”.
At the scene of the blast, neighbours suggested that traditional healers should not be allowed to operate within residential areas. Mr Blessing Magaya said they should operate in secluded areas away from the public. “Now we are all suffering,” he said.
Ms Felistas Dumba, daughter to Mandere’s landlord, said the family would not sell the property.
“In future such healers should have their own premises away from the rest of us,” she said.
Mr Kennedy Mangenje said council should allocate traditional healers an area to build their “surgeries”.
Most of Sekuru Shumba’s paraphernalia was taken to the police station yesterday. Mandere’s father and some of the victims also gave statements to the police yesterday afternoon. Among Mandere’s belongings was the clay pot that survived the blast, raising eyebrows among residents.
The clay pot had inexplicably survived the blast with residents claiming that it was part of the traditional healer’s apparatus. Authorities in Chitungwiza had also hired earthmoving equipment to clear rubble from the site. The equipment had yesterday cleared the rubble from the damaged houses.
Chitungwiza residents continued to throng the area to catch a glimpse of activities at the site. Police also maintained their presence to control the crowd. Mr Oliver Dumba, the landlord, said he would rebuild his seven-roomed house as it was his only source of guaranteed revenue.
“I am 66 years old and am a retired bus driver. I worked for Harare Omnibus Company,” he said. Mr Dumba said he would look for a job to earn a living.
Harare police spokesman Inspector Tedious Chibanda said police were still waiting for results from the specialists who include pathologists and the army bomb disposal unit. “By tomorrow (today) we will know the direction,” he said.
Inspector Chibanda said the matter had now been referred to the CID Law and Order Unit because of its nature. He confirmed that post-mortems had been carried out on all the five bodies and remains. He said results would be made public soon.