6 homesteads belonging to Zanu PF members set on fire in arson attack


PAIN, anguish, anger and fear are some of the words that aptly describe how villagers in Mahove in Tongogara area, Shurugwi are feeling following an arson attack that left them homeless.

The incident occurred at the weekend and property comprising furniture, blankets, clothing and school uniforms for children and food items worth about US$45 000 was destroyed by the fire.

Seven goats, over 100 chickens, turkeys and six tonnes of maize and soya beans were also burnt.

According to the police, a total of seven people were burnt to death while 10 houses were also torched in suspected arson attacks, which took place in different parts of the country, including in Shurugwi.

Two suspected arsonists who are brothers namely Edwin and Edson Madhuveko from Mahove Village allegedly torched nine huts belonging to six villagers leaving a trail of untold suffering.

The brothers appeared yesterday before Shurugwi resident magistrate Ms Sithabile Zungula facing one attempted murder and arson charges. They were not asked to plead and were remanded in custody to August 11.

In one of the bedrooms, there was a child sleeping and he managed to escape.

When the Chronicle news crew visited the area yesterday, villagers gave harrowing tales of their experiences following the incident, which was also condemned by President Mnangagwa.

The news crew observed rubbles of the burnt homes and some villagers could be seen comforting each other.

In interviews, villagers said the arson attack could be politically motivated as six homesteads which were attacked belonged to known Zanu-PF members.

The Zanu-PF members whose homes were burnt down include Cdes Eva Chitata, Lot Chivese, Walter Mhongarayi, Gertrude Munyoro, Anna Mangena and Marufu Mahara.

They were actively conducting door-to-door campaigns for the ruling party ahead of the August 23 harmonised elections when their homes were torched, allegedly by members of an opposition party.

Cde Chivese’s son Brighton (11) was brave enough to climb to the top of one of the two huts and put out the fire.

Mrs Senzeni Mangena who is daughter to Cde Anna Mangena said the entire village is in state of sh0ck and traumatised following the arson attack.

“It was around 1am when we heard movements outside and when we went out to check what was happening, we saw the kitchen and the bedroom ablaze. Luckily we were in the main house,” he said.

Mrs Mangena said she heard loud noise coming from one of the rooms where they kept their goats, chickens and turkeys.

“Seven goats, 50 chicken and six turkeys were burnt to death. We lost beds, food, including two and half tonnes of maize and clothing,” she said.

Cde Joyce Maramba, mother to Cde Chivese said a Grade Five pupil at Zvamaonde Primary School saved the day by putting out the fire.

“My son is a staunch member of the Zanu- PF Youth League and I believe that’s why his houses were set on fire. However, a brave pupil at Zvamaonde Primary School managed to put out the fire. We lost beds, uniforms and clothes,” she said.

“We had done door-to-door campaign for the party that afternoon hence we suspect it’s the opposition party members because these people who were attacked hold key positions in the ruling party.”

Mrs Blandina Mugova said they lost two beds and a wheelbarrow.
“The whole village was on fire and the arsonists targeted mostly kitchens and bedrooms. Fortunately, we managed to get out before the fires destroyed our property and livestock,” she said.

Another villager, Cde Richard Sibanda, said they are now living in fear.

“We strongly believe that this is linked to politics. We have never fought with the opposition and we feel police should come and assist us,” he said.

Mahove village head, Mr Abel Gamane said: “We hope that the wheels of justice will move fast enough to bring the culprits to book. Sunday morning is a day I will never forget as I witnessed several houses being burnt.”

He said the entire village is still in a state of shock.
“Villagers are confused and in a state of shock. These people worked hard to build their houses and furnish, but sadly some rogue elements decide to burn them down,” said Mr Gamane.

President Mnangagwa has directed the police to bring to book all those linked to the political violence.

He urged Zimbabweans to continue maintaining peace before, during and after the elections.

The country is set to hold its harmonised general elections on August 23, and so far, the environment has been peaceful with the President on numerous platforms calling for peace.

The police had initially ruled out any linkage of the Shurugwi attacks to election violence but villagers said they strongly suspect it is politically motivated.

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