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When murder came to Gletwin

By Freeman Razemba

On Tuesday Gletwin residents in Harare woke to gunshots which shattered the early morning peace when a man shot and killed his wife and brother-in-law after a protracted marital dispute. Following the brutal crime, Petros Pomborokani (50), a former Ministry of Health and Child Care official, immediately went into hiding and is being hunted down by the police.

Pallbearers carry the casket with the body of Olivia Zenda who was shot by her husband at their Gletwin home in Harare. - (Pictures by Memory Mangombe)
Pallbearers carry the casket with the body of Olivia Zenda who was shot by her husband at their Gletwin home in Harare. – (Pictures by Memory Mangombe)

Pomborokani is suspected to be armed and dangerous and police have urged members of the public to assist them with investigations. The matter is being handled by CID Homicide.

On the fateful morning, as his wife Olivia Zenda (42) who also worked for the Ministry of Health and Child Care went about her daily routines, Pomborokani who had been away in South Africa for sometime “slithered” into their house armed with a CZ pistol and wearing a hooded jacket. As per her normal routine, Olivia was having breakfast with their kids, something she did with them every weekday before leaving for work.

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Teacups, a teapot, sugar basin and plates were on the coffee table the small family sat around as they happily shared their first meal of the day. Everything seemed normal until the moment Pomborokani walked in.

Evil suddenly took over.

Typical of a movie style hitman, Pomborokani without uttering a single word set his eyes on his targets and immediately opened fire on Olivia and her brother Robert Zenda (49), killing them instantly. The two victims sustained fatal wounds on their heads. Their lifeless bodies lay next to huge pools of blood.

The horror scene quickly unfolded in front of Pomborokani and Olivia’s three children aged 12, 10 and eight who watched their mother and uncle bleed to death. Olivia’s mother and a relative also watched the murder in fear as their domestic worker hid behind furniture. They all escaped without injuries. The couple’s first born child aged 19 was away in boarding school.

Police recovered the pistol’s two loaded magazines at the scene. Investigations carried out so far have untangled a web of marital disputes between Pomborokani and Olivia.

The rumour mill has been saturated with many versions, each person giving different accounts of the life their neighbours lived.

Some neighbours said at some point during their 20-year rocky marriage Pomborokani developed a habit of moving in and out of their matrimonial home but never officially gave his wife a token of divorce.

They could not quite put a finger on what was happening, but suspected something was wrong.

At the couple’s home in Gletwin, Harare where mourners gathered, relatives were still in fear that Pomborokani could strike again.

Family spokesperson Mr Mark Chamunorwa Mapfumo Zenda said they were still in shock following the recent incident which claimed his sister and brother.

“This is a very sad incident and at the moment we are in the process of going to our rural home in Zenda Village, Marondera, for burial tomorrow (today), if all goes well.

“We are going to meet our elders at our rural home who will take over the programme. We are going to bury them at the same place,” he said.

Some neighbours knew Pomborokani as a violent man who was in the habit of assaulting Olivia.

“Sometime last year he severely assaulted his wife following a misunderstanding. The wife had to be admitted at a local hospital due to injuries she sustained,” said one of the neighbours.

Following the incident, a report was made to the police.

It was still not clear by yesterday whether the gun he used to commit the offence was licenced in his name or not as police are still investigating the case.

Investigations carried by The Herald reveal Pomborokani’s chain of violent behaviour. He was arrested in 2016 for kidnapping gospel singer Mathias Mhere who he accused of having an extra-marital affair with Olivia.

Pomborokani forced Olivia to phone Mhere, inviting him to the couple’s house. When the musician arrived at the couple’s house, Pomborokani pointed a firearm at him.

The uncanny Pomborokani allegedly forced Mhere and his wife to remove their clothes and held them hostage naked for five hours.

Pomborokani was arrested and appeared before a Harare magistrate who convicted him.

He was fined US$150 or three months in prison.

Pomborokani also had two other cases of physical abuse that were reported against him by Olivia at Highlands Police Station.

Olivia, however, later withdrew the cases in unclear circumstances.

He also has another pending case of attempted murder reported by Olivia at Highlands Police Station.

There are also reports that he is wanted by the South African Police Services (SAPS) for two counts of rape which occurred in the neighbouring country in separate incidents.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi urged members of the public to seek counselling from elders, church members, counselling organisations and even the ZRP Victim Friendly Unit whenever they are having any misunderstandings.

“Couples should not use violence as a way of trying to get back to the other part. When there is a peace order, members of the public should respect the law,” he said.

Cases of intimate partner violence are increasingly becoming worrying.

Last year police attended to and recorded several murder cases. This is despite efforts by the police to curb such cases through campaigns to respect the sanctity of human life.

Most of the murder cases were a result of intoxication, altercations or misunderstandings, family and domestic disputes, among others. The ZRP also recorded an increase in ritual murders and victims who were robbed and killed by armed robbers.

In October last year, police in Harare arrested a man at a lodge in the city after he allegedly stabbed and killed his wife following a misunderstanding.

Early last year, a Harare man was arrested after he allegedly burnt to death his five children at Churu Farm following a misunderstanding with their mother.

The man, Steven Majovha (44), had separated with the children’s mother. It was believed that the mother was seeing another man and this did not go down well with him.

In November last year, Government said it was concerned with the increase in cases of gender-based violence around Masvingo Province.

The provincial head in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Mr Joseph Mupinga said that they were working on a multi-sectorial approach to reduce the scourge.

He said they were receiving an average of 100 cases from all the province’s seven administrative districts monthly.

“It is worrisome to note that we have an upsurge in gender based violence cases in our province. The worst affected areas are Zaka and Chivi districts where we have recorded a lot of sexual abuse and murder cases,” said Mr Mupinga.

“On average we get up to 100 such cases being reported per month, mainly related to domestic violence.

“We are working together with other ministries and non-governmental organisations to implement a multi-sectoral approach to reduce cases of GBV in our area. GBV should be condemned with the contempt it deserves.”

He said women constituted the bulk of the victims of gender-based violence in Masvingo Province. The Herald