Five family members, aged between four and 70yearsold, died on Tuesday evening in Masangula communal lands, Mwenezi, after they ate food suspected to have been laced with poison.
Sylvia (7) and Beauty Baloyi (4), Tafadzwa (7) and Takudzwa Pote (4) together with Esther Kungali (70) of Village 7 in Masangula allegedly complained of severe stomach pains and died within minutes of each after they had consumed food mixed with fresh milk suspected to have been laced with an unknown herbicide. Tafadzwa and Takudzwa were children from an earlier marriage of Ms Marita Zavirima (35) who is now married to polygamist Mr Musuteri Dhambarara (59). Mr Dhambarara has two other wives. Sylvia and Beauty were Ms Zavirima’s nieces, while Esther was the latter’s mother.
All the five died at Ms Zavirima’s house after eating the food she had prepared for supper. Ms Zavirima and another relative who also ate the food survived after they vomited soon after eating. It is suspected that Ms Zavirima cooked dried vegetables which she mixed with fresh milk that had been laced with an unknown herbicide and served her family for supper resulting in them experiencing severe stomach pains causing the death of the five.
Their bodies were taken to Chiredzi District Hospital mortuary where they are awaiting post mortem. It is alleged that on the fateful day Mr Dhambarara together with his youngest wife Marita left their home in Village 6 in Masangula and went to Village 7 where his first wife Makanani Lisimati and the second one, Tikomunyi Mapanyi (32) stayed. Mrs Zavirima took with her a twolitre container in which she wanted to put some fresh milk after the milking of cows by her husband in Village 7
Upon arrival, Mrs Zavirima allegedly left her container with the first wife Makanani while she proceeded for the food for work programme in the area. When Mrs Zavirima returned, she collected the milk that had been milked by her husband and gave the first wife to share among all the three wives. She left to fetch water at a nearby well leaving behind the first wife Makanani to share the milk. After a few minutes, Makanani allegedly followed Mrs Zavirima to the well with the latter’s share of the milk
Mrs Zavirima later on returned to her home in Village 6 where she prepared supper made of sadza and dried vegetables which she mixed with fresh milk since she did not have cooking oil. After preparing the meal, Mrs Zavirima served the food to eight people who were present but one of the children refused to eat the relish and just ate the sadza. The other seven family members including Mrs Zavirima, her mother and the five deceased proceeded to eat the meal and started complaining of severe pain in the stomach within minutes.
Mr Dhambarara, who was at the home but refused to eat the meal then tried to administer first aid by inducing vomiting but only his wife vomited and survived while the other five succumbed to the poison. He reportedly gave the meal to dogs in an attempt to establish whether the food was poisoned or not and all the dogs died. Mr Dhambarara’s first wife allegedly fled soon after word spread that five people had died at Mrs Zavirima’s house and her whereabouts are still unknown with police launching a manhunt for her.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday confirmed the death and said investigations were underway. “I can confirm that five people died in Mwenezi after they developed stomach pain as they were eating supper. We are still investigating their deaths and it is painful that four of the deceased are children whose lives have been ended prematurely,’’ she said. Snr Asst Comm Charamba said what made the Mwenezi deaths even more painful was that the tragedy struck just days after six children died in Mashonaland East following a mysterious baptism ceremony by a selfstyled prophet.