THE Chinyika West community near Headlands was early this week plunged into mourning after three siblings from the Mabvuwa family died of suspected food poisoning which left two other minors hospitalised, The Manica Post has established.
The death of Eslom (13), Rutendo (11) and Sarah (seven) who were in Grades Seven, Five and One at Mugadza Primary School has left the community disturbed.
Abraham (five) and Ndezvashe (two), who are admitted at Rusape General Hospital, are in a stable condition.
The incident occurred on Monday in Ward Eight’s Village 21, Chinyika West, in Headlands.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the Mabvuwas ate sadza with a traditional vegetable — amaranths (mowa).
But the deceased’s mother — Ms Fortunate Chivamombe (35) — denies that her children ate poisoned vegetables.
“My children did not eat mowa as alleged. I only gave them sadza and chunks. I don’t know where they could have consumed the poison since the tobacco nursery in the garden was sprayed about a month ago,” she said when The Manica Post caught up with her on Wednesday.
Ms Chivamombe attributed her children’s death to ‘evil death spirits’ haunting the family. Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed the trio’s death, saying Rutendo and Sarah died on their way to Anoldine Clinic, while Eslom died a day after admission at Rusape General Hospital.
He said investigations were in progress.
“Eslom went to school, but was turned back because of his deteriorating health. He arrived home when Rutendo, Abraham and Sarah had gone to the garden, which is about 400 metres away.
“While at the garden, Rutendo and Sarah also started complaining of stomach pains and dizziness. Abraham rushed back home to alert their father — Mr Joseph Mabhuwa — who rushed to the garden to investigate. He discovered that his children could no longer walk,” said Inspector Kakohwa.
Ms Chivamombe claimed that before her children’s death, Rutendo had been possessed by the spirit of her late aunt “who vowed to cause mourning that evening”.
“As I prepared to rush Eslom to the clinic, Rutendo and Sarah started complaining of stomach pains. Rutendo was usually tormented by the spirit of her father’s sister who was murdered in 2000. On that day, she was possessed and the spirit accused my children of refusing to visit her (the late aunt’s) grave. I tried to engage my mother-in-law to no avail,” she said.
“In a family of nine, my husband is the only one who is still alive. The last two deaths in the family were mysterious. My father-in-law hanged himself, while his daughter was murdered,” she said.
She broke down as she narrated the loss of her children.
“When we rushed the children to the clinic, we were shocked to hear that Rutendo and Sarah had already died. It is so painful to lose three children just like that. I have never witnessed such a thing in my life,” she said.
Ms Chivamombe said the medical personnel at Rusape General Hospital did everything possible to save her children, but Eslom could not make it.
“Abraham and Ndewashe are okay, but Eslom could not make it. He was behaving strangely in hospital. I am really troubled, being in hospital without anyone close is torturous. I really need counselling. All I need is to leave this place and go home,” she said.
Mr Mabhuwa described the death of his children as the worst tragedy to strike his family.
“It happened so fast and I can’t believe they are all dead. I don’t know what really happened. All I remember is that they died painful deaths. I am devastated and only the post mortems can establish the cause of their deaths,” said Mr Mabvuwa.
Makoni Rural District Council Ward Eight Councillor Movern Tichawana appealed for financial and material resources to assist the bereaved family.
“This is a disaster that the family cannot handle alone. They need assistance in buying the coffins and repatriating the bodies to Chinyika for burial. We are appealing for both material and financial assistance,” said Councillor Tichawana.
— Manica Post