By Patrick Chitumba
In the wee hours of Tuesday this week, Natasha Manunure (12) from Gweru’s oldest suburb of Mtapa crawls out of her blankets to prepare for her day.
Top in her mind is the Grade 7 General Paper exam she is supposed to sit for at 9AM at the nearby Sandara Primary School which she attends.
She gently knocks on her mother, Mrs Margret Makohli’s bedroom door to remind her that she has to do her household chores early before she dashes for school to write the examination.
Her mother who is still in deep slumber, nonchalantly stamps her blessings to her little angel’s morning halloo and debrief.
To Mrs Makohli, Natasha is an angel, a shining star who besides being bright in school, does all the household chores to perfection so she is not worried and quickly goes back into a slumber as the little one does her chores.
At only 12, she is beginning to show some features of a blooming flower, a rose with a very promising future as she always comes tops in class.
She is one of the brightest minds of the Grade 7 crop of 2020 at Sandara Primary in Gweru.
But as fate would have it, Mrs Makohli did not know that the early morning knock at her door and the melodious voice of Natasha as she spoke to her was the last she would hear from the girl.
She did not think Natasha would meet her fate under some callous and rather awkward manner when that very Tuesday afternoon, soon after writing her General Paper exam and on her way back home, she was fatally struck with a stone by a mentally challenged man.
The man allegedly attacked her from behind as she was busy revising another question paper for an exam she was supposed to sit for the next day.
Natasha fell to the ground head-long after the fatal strike launched by an unusual attacker.
Passersby rushed to vainly render first aid and that was the end of Natasha’s life.Just like that. Tragedy!
“I am still at a loss for words, Natasha can’t just die like that. I am still to come to terms. It’s painful she was my angel, a very responsible girl, bright in school, passionate about school,” mourned Mrs Makohli.
At the scene of the tragedy was a blood-stained old Agriculture Paper 1 questionnaire which witnesses say the girl was concentrating on when she was struck from behind by the mentally challenged man.
An eyewitness, Mr Sydlen Chimalizeni, who resides at a house close to where the incident happened, said he heard a noise which sounded like a firecracker followed by a sharp scream before he went out to investigate.
He said he saw Natasha lying on the ground groaning in pain.
Mr Chimalizeni said in the distance, he saw the mentally challenged man known in the area as Derick Musekiwa fleeing as if he knew the crime he had just committed.
“I knelt down intending to render some first aid on the girl but, some white form started coming out of her mouth.
There was a lot of blood all over the scene,” he said.
But what boggles Mr Chimalizeni’s mind and locals who quickly gathered at the scene moments after Musekiwa had allegedly committed the crime is that this mentally deranged man is known for his violent behaviour and authorities were doing nothing to restrain him.
Even the late Natasha’s grandmother, Mrs Sophia Zivanai who also attended the scene was once a victim of Musekiwa’s violent behaviour.
To the locals he is a violent man on the loose with many of them in the area having fallen victim.
Mrs Lyza Mushonga, a resident in the nearby Mambo suburb said Musekiwa once attacked her son.
She said they always report Musekiwa’s behaviour at the nearby Mtapa Police Station but nothing is being done.
“I stay in Mambo and when I heard that there was a child who had died after being struck by Derick Musekiwa, I quickly rushed to the scene and it’s unfortunate that I know this family. I know this girl. This Derick is a nuisance and we have been living in fear of him, we have made several reports to the police,” said Mrs Mushonga.
Another resident Mrs Shaylee Jambayo said two weeks ago, her grandchild was struck on the right shoulder with a stone by the same man.
“Derick struck my granddaughter who coincidentally was in the same class with Natasha and she is still in pain. Her hand is not functioning well and she is having difficulties writing her Grade 7 exams. As residents we are sick and tired of Derick.
We appeal for action from the police. He should have been in a mental institution and not on the streets harassing and killing innocent children. May the law take its course,” she said.
Natasha’s brother, Marvelous, said it was a dark day for him and his family after losing her sister who had a bright future.
He said Natasha died a few metres from home.
“People came and told us that she had been struck with a stone and I quickly rushed here and found her gone.
“We, however managed to apprehend Derick Musekiwa towards Mambo Shopping Centre and handed him to the police,” he said.
Teachers who refused to be named for fear of victimisation confirmed that Natasha was one of the pupils they were expecting to bag not more than seven units in her Grade 7 exams.
“She had a bright future ahead, she was hard working and we are shocked by her untimely death. She was very active in class and has been like that from Grade 1. It’s unfortunate that the person who did this was in need and is in need of assistance.
A lot of pupils have not been coming to school allegedly afraid of this person who attacked her,” said one of the teachers who were at the scene of Natasha’s demise.
Residents of Mtapa and Mambo are angry at the police for failing to take Musekiwa to a mental institution.
As funeral arrangements are underway, the community is of the opinion that Government should take an initiative through the social welfare department to commit mental patients to institutions where they can receive assistance instead of letting them roam around the streets posing a danger to themselves and community at large.
Acting Midlands Provincial Police Spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said Musekiwa was now in police custody and was supposed to be taken to the court soon.
She said police acted correctly and arrested Musekiwa who will undergo mental examination.
“The duty of the police is to maintain law and order and the police have acted rightfully and arrested Musekiwa in connection with the murder of the girl. It was, however, the duty of Musekiwa’s parents or relatives to take him to a psychiatric institution or hospital if they knew he had a mental problem and was violent in nature,” said Insp
Mukwende who was responding to allegations from members of the public that they have been reporting him to the police with no action. The Chronicle.