Just four days ago, little Yolanda Molemohi and her brother Theo were having their faces painted at the harvest festival at church while their smartly-dressed dad chatted to friends.
Yesterday morning, their mother found them strangled in the bedroom of their Whalley Range home – their father Petros Mwashita slumped beside their tiny bodies.
It is believed that Petros Mwashita is a brother of former Zanu PF MP for Harare, Sunningndale East Vivian Mwashita.
Vivian Mwashita, a former operative of the dreaded Central Intelligency Organisation, CIO (Robert Mugabe’s secret police) is well known for her court battles with Independent contestant Margaret Dongo.
In February 2008, in Zanu PF Harare Provincial primaries, Mvurachena Senate constituency sitting senator Vivian Mwashita lost to Miriam Chikukwa.
The children murdered had been born in Britain after their dad – originally from Zimbabwe – had claimed asylum with his wife Morongoe in 2003. They had been allocated the housing association home and Yolande, four, had attended nearby Our Lady’s RC Primary.
Headteacher Cas Page recalled a `lovely, happy, bubbly little girl with such a wonderful smile, who was loved by everyone in school’.
She said: "In her short time here she had made lots of friends and was really enjoying being in school.
"Everyone has been deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news and our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Yolanda had often been seen by neighbours playing in the garden with her mum and Theo, two.
Sophie Partington, 34, said: "They were lovely little kids, always loving each other. The mum was very quiet. When we saw the police we checked on the news to see what had happened and we just said please let it not be the children. It’s just shocking."
The family were described as devout Christians. The father had taken the children to a harvest festival at St Margaret church on Rufford Road at the weekend, said neighbours. Mr Mwashita was described by one as `always smartly dressed in a shirt and tie and he had a briefcase’.
Morongoe had left the family home a week ago. One neighbour said she and her husband had apparently been experiencing problems for months.
Mussie Gebremariam, 32, who lives in the same block of flats, said: "I have lived there for over a year. I knew the mother just to say `hi’ to and I’ve often seen her playing with the children.
"They seemed very happy. The children were often running around at the weekend."
Patrick O’Connor 31, who lives in the neighbouring block of flats, said: "I am shocked. As a father it’s just very upsetting."
Michael Chubb, 68, who also lives nearby, said: "I’ve not seen children going in or coming out. I’m just shocked that two children are involved like this."