A COUPLE from Pelandaba suburb in Bulawayo was attacked by robbers, leading to the death of the husband in a case that brings to the fore an alarming rise in crime and the collapse of the city’s emergence services.
The incident occurred last Wednesday shortly after 6PM at Pelandaba Cemetery.
Misheck Rindai Mapeta (54) and Ms Sarudzai Portia Showa (43) of Pelandaba West, were walking home from a nearby bus stop using a footpath which passes through the cemetery when three suspects attacked them.
Sources said one of the suspects grabbed Ms Showa by the right hand, dragged her to the side of the road and stabbed her with a knife thrice on the chest and once on the head.
“The other two suspects attacked Mapeta as they demanded money and cellphones. They indiscriminately stabbed him on the right eye, back, right rib and head,” said the source.
Ms Showa, a National University of Science and Technology senior lecturer, escaped leaving her husband at the mercy of the robbers.
She alerted neighbours who accompanied her to the scene where they found him lying unconsciously in a pool of blood.
Neighbours told Chronicle they contacted emergency services so that they could ferry the victims to hospital, but they did not show up.
“The victims were savagely attacked, particularly the man. We phoned the ambulance people and they assured us that they would be at the scene in about 30 minutes, but they failed to turn up,” said a neighbour.
“One of the neighbours with a car offered to ferry the victims to the nearest Bulawayo City Council’s fire and ambulance station in Mpopoma. Upon arrival, the ambulance crew could be seen loitering around and several ambulances were parked.”
The neighbour said the ambulance crew didn’t seem to take the incident as an emergency and Mapeta died before he and his wife were taken to the hospital.
The victims were devout members of the Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church for the past 20 years. Mr Albert Mupanguri, who is a deacon, said Mapeta was an evangelist who lived what he preached.
“As a church we are saddened by the gruesome death of our evangelist, Mr Mapeta. He was an exemplary and humble evangelist who had no problems with anyone in church and everyone loved him. He was a very quiet person who loved church and we will miss him,” he said.
Ms Shylet Phiri, a neighbour, said Mapeta was a sociable person who lived a quiet life with his wife and their four children.
“Mapeta was a good person and ever since I started living here, I had never encountered any problem with him or his wife. We have lost a good neighbour to these robbers who have unleashed a reign of terror in our suburb,” she said.
Ms Phiri said a week hardly passes by without an incident involving rap_e and robbery in the suburb.
“We are having cases of people being mugged and raped at the cemetery almost every week, but sadly police are not doing anything in terms of arrests. The moment it gets dark, the cemetery and surrounding areas turn into a no-go area,” she said.
“These robbers waylay people at the cemetery soon after dropping off at the bus stop. Residents, especially women are no longer safe particularly in the evening because we don’t have buses accessing the suburb because of poor roads.”
Another neighbour, Mr Clement Moyo: “The cemetery has turned into a crime hotspot and this has been going on for some time now. In fact, there are two spots where people are mugged and rap_ed almost every day.”
Mr Moyo recently lost a pushcart after his house was broken into. He said the following day, they struck at his neighbour’s home and went away with electrical gadgets.
“The moment it gets dark, these people start moving around the suburb. Sometime last month, we apprehended one of the suspects loitering at night and upon searching him we found two okapi knives and a screwdriver,” he said.
Mr Moyo said when they took the suspect to Magwegwe Police Station, cops released him, saying there was no evidence that he committed a crime.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the scene of the latest incident, Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church members were busy covering the blood.
Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Nomalanga Msebele said no arrests have been made.
“Our officers attended the scene and observed that the now deceased had deep cuts on the upper right eye, back, right rib as well as on the back of the head. The wife had three stab wounds on the chest and one stab wound on the head and she was treated and discharged,” said Asst Insp Msebele.
She urged members of the public to avoid using bushy footpaths especially in the evening as they risk their lives.
“We also appeal to members of the public with information that may lead to the arrest of the accused persons to contact any nearest police station,” said Asst Insp Msebele.
She said nothing was stolen from the couple. Mapeta’s body was taken to his rural home in Mutasa District, Manicaland province for burial.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Linos Phiri said they will investigate his charges’ failure to respond to the call for help.
“What is alleged to have happened is uncalled for because as emergence services our job is to attend to emergencies within the possible shortest time. However, pertaining to that Pelandaba incident, we will do our investigations,” he said.