IF YOU are a sceptic of the supernatural, look away now.
A survivor of the January 21 blast at a house in the Zengeza 2 suburb of Chitungwiza has revealed an extraordinary tale of greed and witchcraft.
Clara Banda, who lived in the same neighbourhood as tragic traditional healer Speakmore Mandere, 24, claims she was also part of a “cleansing ceremony” which went kaboom – leaving five dead and a dozen others injured.
Harare police said Saturday they were yet to establish the cause of the blast which damaged several houses on Ndororo Street. Charity Charamba, the national police spokeswoman, says it is unlikely an explanation will be found in the next seven days.
In the absence of an official explanation, neighbours have been filling in the gaps for an expectant media – and some of the theories put forward beggar belief.
Yet Banda, hospitalised after being struck by shrapnel from the blast, is not just another neighbour. She was at Mandere’s rented home as a consultant – herself boasting supernatural powers – for a cleansing ceremony to kill what she describes as a troublesome GOBLIN brought by businessman, Clever Kamuyedza, and his wife, Svodai.
Mandere, also known as Sekuru Shumba, had invited Banda and another traditional named only as Virginia to help him with the “cleansing ceremony”. Consultations with Kamuyedza – a kombi operator – lasted three days and a fee of US$15,000 was to be paid.
Banda has no doubt why they gathered on a hot afternoon on January 21. They were to take a “money-making goblin” from Kamuyedza which had turned hostile by making “extreme demands”.
Banda, who suffered minor burns and a blow to the eye, said: “The tragedy fell upon us while we were conducting the ceremony to dispose of the goblin that this businessman brought to Sekuru Shumba.
“After assembling the team for the cleansing ceremony, Sekuru Shumba invited Kamuyedza, his wife and two of their associates to his home for consultations.
“The consultations lasted three days during which we discussed whether or not we could handle this kind of ritual.
“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 Kamuyedza and two other men. I was with Mai Tsitsi (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 bang coming from the bedroom. The walls of the house crumbled. Virginia and I struggled to get outside.
“I was hit by debris falling off a crumbling wall, but my friend Virginia was not so lucky. She is still nursing serious injuries from that blast.”
In the aftermath of the explosion, five people were dead including Mandere, seven-month-old Kelly Chimina who was asleep in one of the bedrooms, Kamuyedza and two of his associates – retired Detective Constable Alex Shamu and a yet-to-be-named man thought to have a military background.
Rescue workers took more than 24 hours to gather body parts after the blast mutilated the bodies of the dead. Some body parts were picked as far away as 50 meters.
Pictures of some of the dead appeared to show evidence they were burnt which military experts suggest would be consistent with an incendiary device like a landmine or some kind of bomb.
But in the absence of a police explanation of what happened, the voices of Banda and other survivors will reinforce a strong belief locally that what happened shortly after 3.20PM on that day will elude scientific enquiry.
Yet the human toll is not in question. Victoria Sarangera, a neighbour, remembers the immediate aftermath vividly.
“I was outside doing the dishes when all of a sudden there was a loud bang and I was hit by a brick,” she told the Sunday Mail.
“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. Kamuyedza 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.”
Among the survivors was Mandere’s aide Tawanda Maruma who had stepped outside to prepare some concoction in a clay pot, his wife Liliyosa Nyawata and Kamuyedza’s wife, Svodai. They have all been questioned by the police.