BLACK SATURDAY . . . How an act of terror shattered 2 families

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The Herald

Leroy Dzenga Featues Writer
A TRAGEDY befell Zimbabwe on June 23, a heinous act of terror which has since been condemned by locals and the international world caught our peaceful nation unawares.

At least 49 people were injured in the explosion at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium. Two have since lost their lives.

One of the deceased was Nelson Dube, a 57-year-old officer from the Central Intelligence Organisation, who had dedicated the greater part of his life to serving the nation.

When he met his untimely death, Dube was a Chief Security Aide working in the office of Vice President Kembo Mohadi.

Besides his face being a constant fixture behind many high-profile individuals at public events, Dube was a keen farmer.

His eldest son, Simbarashe (28), is still battling to accept that his mentor is no longer in a position to show him the way.

“Our father was a teacher, a patriot, who always reminded us that the land is the most important asset anyone can have,” he said.

The dark side of social media reared its ugly head moments after the incident as the Dube family saw heart-rending images of their father going viral on the internet.

“There were images and videos which were circulating online; we saw a man who resembled our father. At first, the whole family was in denial but we saw his sleeping position which we had grown to know over the years.

“He always clenched his fingers into a fist when he slept and when we saw images of him in this position we knew that he was injured,” Simbarashe said.

According to him, there were hours of silence after they had all ascertained that it was their father who was lying helplessly on the ground in the videos.

A brief conversation with his father when he momentarily woke up in hospital showed him where his heart lay.

“Dad spoke to us briefly on his deathbed, he spoke about his farm workers. He mentioned his workers and told us to continue working on the land,” Simbarashe said.

Simbarashe made a vow to keep his father’s name alive as well as take care of his mother Emilia, his sister Tatenda (25) and the last boy in the family, Tinaye, who is 19.

Tatenda bemoaned the way her father died.

“We have to live with what happened, but it is painful to be robbed of a pillar and a unifier. He was a fit man and no one would have predicted that he would die the way he did. Of course, we will soldier on but this is a very difficult time for us,” she said.

Dube was a farmer par excellence who channelled most of his earnings towards his Featherstone farm’s productivity.

Pall-bearers carry a casket bearing the body of provincial hero Nelson Dube to its final resting place at his Featherstone farm.- (Picture by Shelton Muchena)

Even when he had a job which brought him close to power and well utilised land, he maintained his humility.

“When the late Dube wanted to move to this area (Featherstone), he visited me and told me that he needed space to farm. We first gave him an A1 farm and when he showed that farming was in his blood, we then gave him this A2 farm,” Chief Musarurwa said, giving a eulogy to the late Dube.

The late Dubes love for a free Zimbabwe saw him join the liberation struggle at the age of 15 in 1976.

The virtues he learnt during the times of war did not wane even in post-independence Zimbabwe.

He survived the Chimoio bombing in 1978 which killed thousands of freedom fighters.

After independence, he joined the Zimbabwe National Army for three years before resigning in 1983.

Dube spent two years completing his high school which had been disrupted by war.

In 1985, he joined the CIO, an organisation he served for 33 years rising to the rank of Chief Security Aide.

HEART OF GOLD . . . CSGT Mugunzva has been described as a doting father and walking example of hard work, loyalty and patriotism

Another son of the soil whose life was consumed by the blast was Colour Sergeant (CSGT) Stanley Kudakwashe Mugunzva (39) who, towards the end of his life, spent a lot of time on the road, working hard to provide for his wife and four children.

Another day in the line of duty took the career soldier to Bulawayo on June 23, a journey which seemed like another routine assignment to his family.

If only they knew that the rally at White City Stadium which he was attending in his capacity a close aide to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, would end in tragedy.

An explosion whose source is still under investigation went off as the ZANU-PF presidium was disembarking from the stage.

He succumbed to head injuries sustained during the blast the following day at Mpilo Hospital, where frantic efforts to save him fell short.

Mugunzva’s family is yet to come to terms with the unexpected death of their breadwinner.

“This is a great loss, he was our unifier and provided for all of us. I am still trying to process how a person I spoke to two weeks ago can be dead, no one expected this,” his younger brother, Blessing Mugunzva, said.

He was a workaholic who prioritised his family.

The Zimbabwe National Army last week held a funeral parade for Colour Sergeant Stanley Mugunzva at Dzivaresekwa Barracks in Harare before his burial in Chirumhanzu. – Picture by John Manzongo

“I last saw him two weeks ago, it was hard to find him at home because of how he loved his work. My brother always spoke of his family. Even as he was battling for his life, he woke up briefly. The only thing he could mention were his children,” said the elder Mugunzva.

According to him, footage of the blast circulating on social media made the the tragedy even more painful.

“He was my best friend, I included him in every decision I made. It is like I have lost three quarters of my life and I do not know how I will recover from this setback,” he said.

The politicised comments by social media users also angered the family as some of them were in bad taste.

Scenes from CSGT Mugunzva’s funeral parade were heart wrenching as his wife Prisca wept uncontrollably throughout.

She had to walk with the support of two church mates, signalling a person hurt from the loss of her pillar of strength.

Compassionte and generous to fault, Mugunzva was said to have a heart of gold.

He left behind four children – two boys and two girls. The eldest boy is in Form One, while the two girls are in Grade Five and One, respectively. The youngest boy is four.

All have to grow up deprived of their biological father because of an act of cowardice.

Staff Sergeant Johannes Suwandika, a friend and fellow soldier who lived in the same neighbourhood with the late Mugunzva, described him as a man with a heart of gold.

“He was a man with a good heart. Every morning on his way to work, he would offer free transport to uniformed forces he met along the way in his commuter omnibus. He did not discriminate on whether he knew you or not, everyone from the army, police, Zimbabwe Prison Services would get transport for free,” Suwandika said.

Suwandika added: “I was involved in an accident recently, and he always visited to ensure that I was in good spirits. The way he was taken away from us is painful; he was a reliable friend who went out of his way to help those in need.”

An eulogy from Commanding Officer 1 Presidential Guard Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Samson Murombo gave the crowd which gathered at the Presidential Guard Barracks in Dzivarasekwa to pay their last respects to the fallen soldier, an appreciation of his patriotism and dedication.

“During his service, he (CSGT Mugunzva) displayed dedication to duty and good discipline,” he said.

During his 18 years in the Zimbabwe National Army, Mugunzva was said to have been a walking example of hard work, loyalty and patriotism.

Born on September 11, 1979 in Gwangwava Village, Chirumhanzu, in the Midlands Province, Mugunzva attended Magada and George primary schools.

He proceeded to Drake Secondary School for his O-Levels.

From, he joined the ZNA on March 1, 2000.

After completing his military training he was posted to One Infantry Brigade where he served as a rifleman under HQ 1 BDE Defence Company.

CSGT Mugunzva was later transferred to serve under the 12 Infantry Battalion in August 2001.

He was later selected to serve under Presidential Guard Brigade in the year 2005 where his roles included providing security to the Head of State and CDF. In the same year, he was promoted to become a lance corporal.

In 2008, he rose to the rank of corporal.

In 2014, he was assigned to work in the Office of the Vice President as a close security aide until his death.

Notable courses he took include Section Commander Tactics Course, SQD drill instructor’s course and Platoon Sergeants Tactics Instructors.

During his 18-year career, CSGT Mugunzva was conferred with the Independence Medal, 10 years of service medal and the DRC Campaign Medal. Two men many people spoke highly of fell victim to what has been described as an act of terror.

Zimbabwe will remember Saturday June 23 as the day the country was robbed of two of its gallant sons at once.

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