I fear for my life – says mother who lost her son in Harare floods after receiving threats from “land barons”

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By Anna Chibamu

THE mother of a six-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters and found dead in Budiriro, Harare has said she is receiving threats from land barons after reporting her son’s death to authorities.

The bereaved mother, only identified as Shildah, said she had been blocked from accessing basic necessities and moving around before she left to seek shelter at one of the evacuation centres.

This emerged during a tour of the Budiriro floods-affected areas and Dzivarasekwa flats by ministers Winston Chitando, Daniel Garwe and Charles Tavengwa.

Over a hundred families were evacuated to temporary shelters following heavy rains that displaced residents in Budiriro and Kuwadzana. Some of the flooded areas were new residential stands the government says were “illegally” allocated by land barons.

“I am being threatened by some people in this area on why l went to the police to report about my son’s death.

“The people (suspected land barons) are threatening me and blocking me from even moving around. I do not know what they wanted me to do. I am unsure about their mission, whether they are after my life or not?” Shildah said before collapsing.

After gaining consciousness, she was taken for counselling and further monitoring by the Civil Protection officers at Budiriro 3 Primary School where the flood victims are housed.

Civil Protection Unit director Nathan Nkomo told her to “report the matter to the police.”

In an interview after the tour, Minister Garwe promised to look into the woman’s plight after being asked if she was a beneficiary amongst the 27 families who will be relocated to the Dzivarasekwa Extension flats built by the government.

“It is something that we will consider as a government but l will not decide on an individual.

“Government is working on what is called a whole government approach. We will consider other government ministries and agents and see how we can move forward,” Garwe told journalists.

He advised the residents that all houses constructed on wetlands would be demolished.