The trial of a 44-year-old Chivhu man who allegedly killed his ex-lover and three of her children by burning them with petrol in Epworth last year continued yesterday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
Two of the three surviving children testified in camera in the case in which Bernard Mazhandu Mucheka – represented by Mr Simbarashe Katsuwa – is charged with seven counts of murder and attempted murder.
Lorraine Mtetwa (40) and her three daughters – Colleta Gohodza (17), Shamiso (16) and Rutendo Mukarati (12) – died after the arson, while three other children were seriously burnt.
High Court judge Justice Ester Muremba used the services of the Victim Friendly Unit at the Harare Magistrates’ Court to listen to evidence from the two minors who suffered severe burns.
They separately told the court that they knew Mucheka as their mother’s friend.
"We were fast asleep when we were awakened by balls of fire. The door to our bedroom was locked and my brother . . . had to kick it open. He then rescued us as he took us outside the house one-by-one," said one of them.
Justice Muremba postponed the matter indefinitely after law officer Mr Beaven Murevanhema indicated that his star witness was not readily available.
It is alleged that sometime in February last year, Mtetwa ended the relationship with Mucheka, which started in 2011, after finding out he was already married.
Mucheka allegedly told Mtetwa he would "fix" her.
Mr Murevanhema alleged that around midnight on April 20, Mucheka went to Mtetwa’s house in Epworth with five litres of petrol. He broke the window to the bedroom where she was sleeping with some of her children and set the room alight with the petrol.
Injured family members were rushed to Harare Central Hospital where Mtwetwa died on April 23. Colleta died the following day, while Rutendo and Shamiso followed suit on April 25.