ZIMBABWE – In probably the closest re-enactment of last week’s mysterious Chitungwiza explosion, a traditional healer and survivor of the blast claims the tragedy occurred during a cleansing ceremony in which an imported goblin was beheaded.
The survivor, Ms Clara Banda, who escaped with visible minor burns and eye injury, says the blast occurred soon after her counterpart, 24-year-old Speakmore Mandere, popularly known as Sekuru Shumba, beheaded the goblin.
She claims to have miraculously escaped after failing to land the major role of conducting the ceremony. In a state of shock, she ran to her nearby home soon after the blast.
According to Ms Banda, transport operator Mr Clever Kamuyedza approached Mandere seeking help to dispose of the troubling goblin. He was to pay US$15 000 for the ritual.
“The tragedy fell upon us while we were conducting the ceremony to dispose of the goblin that this businessman brought to Sekuru Shumba,” said Ms Banda.
According to the traditional healer, Mr Kamuyedza acquired a money-spinning goblin from a nearby country to boost the fortunes of his transport business. He, however, decided to dispose of it after it started “to make extreme demands.’’
Mandere is said to have assembled a team of traditional healers including Ms Banda, to assist in conducting the ceremony. “After assembling the team, Sekuru Shumba invited Mr Kamuyedza, his wife and two of their associates to his home for consultations,” said Ms Banda.
“The consultations lasted three days during which we discussed whether or not we could handle this kind of ritual.”
Ms Banda said during the three days Mr Kamuyedza kept the goblin at home and only brought it to Sekuru Shumba’s lodgings for destruction on the fourth day. “Sekuru was in the bedroom with three other men who were members of the group. I was with Mai Tsitsi (Mr Kamuyedza’s wife) and Virginia (another healer) in the lounge.
“Other members of the group sat outside since the house was already packed. Sekuru Shumba beheaded the goblin. Clever (the businessman), subsequently, told his wife to collect the US$15 000 from their car that was parked outside.
“That is when Sekuru shouted that the goblin was fighting back. All I remember after that is a loud sound coming from the bedroom. The walls of the house crumbled. Virginia and I struggled to get outside.”
Ms Banda — who was slightly injured by debris — says she later disappeared from the scene before crowds gathered. Another healer is believed to have been among those rushed to hospital for treatment.
“I was hit by debris falling off a crumbling wall, but my friend Virginia was not as lucky. She is still nursing serious injuries from that blast,” said Ms Banda.
A neighbour, Victoria Sarangera, said the explosion occurred at around 1520 hours. She said she was the first person to see victims of the blast.
“I was outside doing the dishes when all of a sudden there was a loud bang and I was hit by a brick,” she said. “When I turned back, there were two men who were already dead. Their skin had turned black. One of them had a deep gash on the head and his brains could be seen while the other man’s body had been ripped into two.
“A cloud of smoke went up into the air. Sekuru Shumba was lying motionless. The businessman was also dead. At that moment, a tenant at the house, Mai Kelly, was looking for her daughter whose corpse was later retrieved under a bed. “Limbs and other human parts were strewn all over.”
The mysterious blast killed five people, including Sekuru Shumba, the businessman and a seven-month-old child. Investigators are still trying to establish the cause of the explosion that also damaged 12 other houses.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said specialists in the police bomb disposal and ballistics unit were yet to ascertain the cause of the blast. “The investigation is likely to take longer. There is no likelihood of the findings coming out next week,” she said.