(Last Updated on January 29, 2013 by Editor)
ZIMBABWE – Preliminary investigations into the blast that killed six people in Chitungwiza recently and destroyed 12 houses have indicated that it was caused by explosives.
Police yesterday said they were yet to identify the type of explosives, although speculation is rife that it could have been an antitank landmine. Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said investigations were still continuing on the case.
“Preliminary investigations are indicating that the cause was due to explosives. Therefore, we all need to be very cautious,” she said.
“We are still conducting investigations. Forensic, bomb disposal and forensic ballistics are still carrying out analyses.” Asst Comm Charamba said five people died in the explosion, with reports on Monday indicating that another man died from injuries sustained in the incident. She said all victims had been identified.
Asst Comm Charamba dismissed reports that there was a soldier or an exsoldier killed by the blast. But she confirmed that an expoliceman died in the incident.
Speculation was rife that the traditional healer and his clients wanted to extract mercury from a bomb resulting in the explosion.
Asst Comm Charamba warned people to desist from such attempts because it was obvious the explosives would explode in their face.“Those devices are designed to explode and cause damage, injury or death,” she said.
“We have three recent cases, one in Chitungwiza, and others in Waterfalls and Manicaland provinces.”
Four family members from Waterfalls tried to open what was suspected to be a grenade and it exploded, seriously injuring one of them. The man lost four fingers.
Asst Comm Charamba said three suspects were arrested in connection with the case. Two more people were arrested early this month in Manicaland province after they were found selling mortar bombs to the public.
They duped prospective buyers that the bombs contained mercury which could fetch instant cash on the illegal market.
“We are appealing to all of you to take heed that explosives are designed to explode,” said Asst Comm Charamba.
“Possession of explosives is illegal and they are highly dangerous and fatal. “Please report to the nearest police station once you have information about people selling explosives.” A local expert on explosives said yesterday that an antitank landmine was likely to have caused the explosion.
The landmine is designed to damage or destroy vehicles, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. Compared to antipersonnel mine, an antitank mine typically has a much larger explosive charge, and a fuse designed only to be triggered by vehicles or, in some cases, after it is tampered with.
The expert said the antitank mine contains a few milligrams of red mercury, which coats the explosives as a preservative. He said most people use red mercury to purify gold and other minerals. However, experts say that there is no material called “red mercury” in any bomb and that there is no market whatsoever for that.
They said there is nowhere on earth where a material called “red mercury” could be found. “What is happening in Zimbabwe (and Zambia and Angola, too) is that conman are selling bombs to greedy gullible people for, say $300, telling them that the bomb has red mercury which can be sold for thousands of US dollars if they can manage to extract the red mercury from the bomb,” said a United Kingdom based Zimbabwean engineering consultant.
“It’s a con. It’s a scam. It’s a hoax that has been used by conmen since the 1970s and conmen are now using the same trick to unsuspecting greedy African businessmen who want short cuts to wealth. In Europe the hoax did not involve selling bombs. Conmen in Europe would just sell ordinary red powder to the gullible by telling them that its ‘red mercury’ that can be sold for millions because its rare and is used for making bombs.
Fortunately the greedy Europeans would just lose their money, but the conmen in Africa are now robbing both money and lives,” he said.