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.
Petros was found slumped next to the dead bodies of his two children had taken an overdose. Petros Mwashita, 37, was discovered on his bed alongside son Theo Molemohi, two, and daughter, Yolanda, four.
It can be revealed that Mr Mwashita, who is under arrest on suspicion of murder, had taken an overdose of prescription tablets.
It is understood that Ms Molemohi, 30, had left the family home in Lansbury House – a three-storey housing association block of flats in Whalley Road – with the children seven days ago after the marriage broke down. She had been re-housed by Manchester council’s homeless unit and was living in a bed and breakfast.
The children had been staying with their father for a few days. Ms Molemohi had arrived at 8am yesterday and found their lifeless bodies. Theo was already dead and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive his sister on the way to hospital.
Ms Molemohi was placed under sedation at Trafford General.
It is believed that Mr Mwashita, who also uses the name Williams, to escape links to his top Zanu PF sister, had struggled to come to terms with the breakdown of his relationship. It is understood that nobody else was involved in the split.
Mr Mwashita is originally from Zimbabwe and had been granted asylum. He is currently in hospital where he has had treatment for the overdose and is undergoing psychiatric assessment.
Ms Molemohi, a PhD student from Lesotho in southern Africa, had asked for permission to stay in Britain. Both children were born in England.
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."