AN incestuous relationship between a man and his niece ended tragically last Saturday after the man sprinkled petrol on the woman’s four children and himself before setting the house on fire.
None of them survived.
Takunda Mundoko (14), who had escaped the inferno, later succumbed to the severe burns at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital in Mutare.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the death of Tonderai Muchimwe (43), Takunda, Ashton Mundoko (12), Quinton Mundoko (seven) and Tamari Mundoko (five).
Asst Comm Nyathi said the incident happened after 35-year-old Ms Violet Muchimwe spurned her uncle, Tonderai Muchimwe’s sexual advances.
Muchimwe was younger brother to Ms Muchimwe’s father.
It is alleged that Muchimwe forcibly entered Ms Muchimwe’s room, where she was sleeping with her children Ashton, Quinton, Tamari and Takunda.
“Armed with a knife, Muchimwe is alleged to have demanded to be intimate with his niece, Violet, thereby leading to a violent struggle. Violet fled the room, leaving her children behind.
“Muchimwe proceeded to sprinkle petrol in the house before setting it ablaze. The intense flames quickly consumed the structure. Muchimwe, Ashton, Quinton, and Tamari were burnt beyond recognition.
“Takunda managed to escape through a window, but had already suffered severe burns,” said the police in a statement.
When The Manica Post visited the family in Mafararikwa Village in Marange on Sunday, neighbours and close relatives revealed that Ms Muchimwe and her uncle had been in an incestuous relationship for the past three years.
The horrifying incident left the community shell shocked as evidenced by the sombre atmosphere that engulfed the whole village.
The funeral wakes were at three different homesteads.
At Ms Muchimwe’s homestead, a few people were mourning and comforting her, while a handful of people were also gathered at Muchimwe’s homestead.
Many mourners where gathered at the Mundoko homestead.
In an interview with The Manica Post, Mr Joseph Mundoko, uncle to Ms Muchimwe’s ex-husband, Mr Norest Mundoko, said as a family, they were waiting for justice to be served.
He said before Muchimwe set the house on fire, he sent nude pictures of himself and Ms Muchimwe to the children’s father.
“He wrote a message informing Norest of his intention to kill the children. Unfortunately, my brother was in Harare and could not do anything to save his children. The man was already in the process of setting the house on fire.
“Everyone knew that Violet and Muchimwe were in love, they did not hide it. Infact, when my brother made visits to see his children, he would sleep on the floor while the lovebirds slept on the bed.
“It is painful that our children have perished. We will make sure that the Muchimwe family pays for their sins because this man killed our children,” said Mr Mundoko.
Headman Mafararikwa’s wife, Ms Sebia Karuru, confirmed that Ms Muchimwe was in an incestuous relationship with her uncle.
The matter once appeared before the headman’s court, but was dismissed due to lack of evidence.
“We call it makunakuna (abomination) in this area. At one time, they appeared before the court with this matter, but they both vehemently denied it. The headman ended up dismissing it.
“ln our culture this is something that we do not expect from a father and his daughter. We are hurt because innocent lives have been lost due to this unholy love affair,” said Ms Karuru.
However, Ms Muchimwe denied the allegations that she was in a relationship with her uncle.
This was despite the availability of nude pictures of Muchimwe and herself having quality time.
Ms Muchimwe said on the fateful night, her uncle wanted to rape her and when she stood her ground, he ended up venting his anger on her children.
She said she was staying with Muchimwe since he was experiencing nightmares at his own home.
“He was staying here because he told me that he was having nightmares at his own home. I let him come and stay with us. I did not know that he would end up killing my children.
The victims’ graves
“He also wanted to kill me, but I survived by bolting from the house and going to his sister’s house. He followed me there, but when I refused to accompany him back home, he proceeded to buy petrol.
“He went to my house and sprinkled the fuel on my children as they were sleeping. My daughter, Takunda, asked him what he was doing and he told her that it was anointed water. After that he ignited the fire using his lighter,” said Ms Muchimwe.
She said she was alerted about the fire by Takunda after she escaped and rushed to her aunt’s home while burning.
“I saw my daughter on fire. She was screaming in agony, but I could not do anything to help her. When neighbours managed to put out the fire, my children’s bodies as well as Tonderai’s had been burnt beyond recognition. It was a sorry sight,” Ms Muchimwe said as emotions got the better of her.
She said she is yet to come to terms with the death of her children.
“This is the end for me. I only saw the skull of my youngest daughter, Tamari. I am in pain and talking about it is traumatic.
“Tonderai has killed me. For weeks he had been telling me that his ancestors were calling him, but I did not think that he would kill my children in his quest to end his own life,” said the woman.
Her brother, Mr Chenjerayi Muchimwe who was one of the first responders to the inferno, said he saw that the house was on fire at around 5am.
“I was coming from the bus stop where I was sending some parcels when I saw my uncle with a container of petrol. I later saw that the house was on fire and I could not do anything as the whole situation overwhelmed me. Neighbours arrived and they assisted in putting out the fire, but we failed to salvage anything,” he said.
Mr Muchimwe and the four children were all buried on Monday