Chitungwiza blast inquest opens

HARARE - An inquest into the explosion that rocked Zengeza suburb in Chitungwiza in January last year has revealed that the traditional healer Speakmore Mandere was dabbling in mercury deals.

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.

Svodai Kamudzeya, the wife of a businessman killed while consulting the traditional healer, testified before Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe that Mandere asked her on the day of the explosion to connect him with mercury buyers .

“My husband and I had gone to Mandere’s residence for a ritual to resuscitate our kombi business,” she said. “While at the house, he inquired from me if I knew people who trade in mercury.

“I told him I knew one Alex Shamhu, a potential buyer, before giving him his contacts. Mandere indicated to me that he knew someone who was in possession of mercury.”

Kamudzeya said she did not know the source of the explosion but was shocked to discover that the house had completely collapsed, with human body parts strewn all over the place.

“We went to fetch water with Mandere’s wife and when we returned, I was dancing to Mbira music with my niece, Virginia Rashirai when I heard loud noises,” she told the inquest.

“I did not get time to see what had happened but the walls of the house had collapsed and there was human flesh in the room where Mandere, my husband and other people were conducting rituals.”

Kamudzeya said she also noticed that her husband was lying dead at a house next door before emergency rescue teams arrived at the scene.

Another witness Virginia Rashirai, who was a regular at Mandere’s residence and a niece to the Kamudzeyas, said there was an unidentified man who arrived at the house moments before the blast.

“I had gone to Mandere’s residence after Kamudzeya had called me to keep her company,” she said. “When I arrived, I greeted Mandere, who was already possessed and other people who were in the house.

“I remained at the house when Kamudzeya and Mandere’s wife went to fetch water. While I was sweeping outside, I noticed a man, who was dressed in black and white enter the house. I did not get the chance to know this person.”

Rashirai said she was not aware of the causes of the explosion and sustained injuries on her right leg and arm.

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