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‘Red mercury caused Chitungwiza blast’

By Tarisai Machakaire

HARARE – A close friend to Speakmore Mandere, the traditional healer killed in the Chitungwiza blast, has revealed that Stix Chabaya Chitanha, also killed in the fatal accident, possibly delivered red mercury to the n’anga’s house.

'Red mercury caused Chitungwiza blast'
‘Red mercury caused Chitungwiza blast’

Red mercury is a substance used in the creation of bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapon systems.

During an inquest into the blast led by prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri, Abel Chaparika, a close friend to Mandere, said the traditional healer informed him of a mercury seller who was due to deliver the substance at the Chitungwiza home that day.

“We became friends with Mandere during the time he was running an apostolic sect,” he said. “I was a member and our relationship was strengthened when he appointed me a leader.

“On the day of the explosion, Mandere called me and told me that he had found someone who was selling red mercury. He inquired about mercury prices and said he intended to conduct business with the buyer that day.”

The Chitungwiza blast occurred on January 21 last year and killed five people. It rocked Ndororo Street and caused massive damage to houses within a kilometre radius.

Chaparika said he tried to warn Mandere of the risks involved but he was defiant.

“I tried to warn him about the dangers of handling such a substance. I once lost a relative in Rushinga who was trying to extract mercury from a landmine, hence I was fully aware of the consequences,” he said.

“I later heard about the explosion and it is possible that it could have been caused by red mercury.”

Another witness, Svodai Kamudzeya, the wife of the businessman killed in the blast while consulting the traditional healer, testified that Mandere asked her to connect him with mercury buyers.

Kamudzeya said she connected Mandere to Alex Shamhu, a potential mercury buyer who also died in the explosion.

Other witnesses Emmanuel Marombe and Tarisai Mutumha, who were Chitanha’s nephew and wife respectively, said he left Harare Hospital where they were visiting a sick relative and disappeared to an unkown place.

Marombe and Mutunha could not reach Chitanha on his mobile phone and later went to their rural home for a funeral.

When they returned, they started searching for Chitanha only to find him at a Chitungwiza mortuary.

The State led six witnesses in the inquiry.

Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe, who is the coroner in the inquest, will pen down his verdict before forwarding it to the prosecutor general’s office. Daily News