AN EXPLOSION at a traditional healer’s home in Zengeza 2 last Monday was most likely caused by a bomb, experts said on Thursday as it emerged that two men who died in the blast – and whose names are yet to be released – had a police and military background.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), citing police sources, reported on Thursday night that the investigation into the blast had assumed a “national security nature” after it emerged that one of the dead men was an ex-cop and the other is “suspected to be in the military”.
Police were still not saying what triggered the explosion which caused damage to 12 other properties and left a dozen people with minor injuries.
Traditional healer Speakmore Mandere was in a spare bedroom of Number 4 Ndororo Street consulting with kombi operator Clever Kamudzenga while their wives were in the car outside when the house was reduced to a shell by a powerful blast.
The two men who are yet to be named are believed to be associates of Kamudzenga.
The fifth victim, seven-month-old Kelly Chimina – the daughter of a tenant – was sleeping in another bedroom.
Neighbours have been speculating about the cause of the blast, with many offering theories steeped in superstition.
Some believe Kamudzenga wanted Mandere to “send lightning” to strike a business rival, but that somehow it rebounded with deadly consequences.
Others claim Kamudzenga was returning a goblin which he got from another traditional healer who was now demanding too much money to take back the troublesome gremlin.
Yet other locals swear that Mandere – who doubled up as a self-styled prophet – may have been trying to extract the mythical red mercury from a grenade brought by Kamudzenga.
No-one has proved the existence of red mercury, but it is believed to be a key ingredient of dirty bombs usually used by terrorists.
The latter theory is probably closest to the truth, says retired Brigadier General Felix Muchemwa.
"There is no mysticism involved. All the signs point to an incendiary bomb,” he said.
Although there was no obvious evidence of a fire at the blast site, pictures have emerged showing the charred remains of some of the dead.
Muchemwa said: “Talk that there was no fire is hogwash. How could people be burnt without fire? It is a simple bomb of an incendiary nature."
Police have been interviewing witnesses and survivors including Liliyosa Nyawata, Mandere’s partner, and Kamudzenga’s wife, Svodai. The traditional healer’s aide, Tawanda Maruma, who said he had stepped outside to stir some concoction in a clay pot which Mandere used for casting out bad spirits, could also prove to be a crucial witness as police piece together what happened.