GWERU: A sombre atmosphere has engulfed the Mtapa township in Gweru following the brutal stoning to death of a grade seven Santara student by a man suspected to be mentally challenged on her way from school this Tuesday afternoon.
It is indeed a difficult moment for the Manunure family, of number 35 Section 3, Mtapa as friends and relatives are struggling to come to terms with the murder of 13-year-old Natasha Manunure.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has since arrested the suspected mentally challenged individual only identified as Derrick who is in his late 40s on allegations of murder.
The Gweru community however identifies Derick as a mentally challenged man popularly known for making prey of particularly women.
What started as any normal day for Natasha who was returning home from writing a grade seven examination however turned tragic, after the suspect allegedly threw a stone that was meant for someone else only to hit the unsuspecting teenager says an eyewitness, Sydleck Chimalizeni.
“I was attending to my small garden when the whole incident took place. Dereck was aiming to hit another boy who was poking fun at him. The boy managed to avoid the stone which eventually hit the victim on the right ear before she fell down bleeding.
“I tried to retrieve a t-shirt from the house to stop bleeding but when I came back the victim was already foaming froth from the mouth and was eventually declared dead,” Chimalizeni said
The victim’s mother said she was deeply hurt by the incident highlighting that she was looking forward to her achieving a lot and assisting the family in the future.
“Am deeply devastated. My child was very sharp at school. She is the one I was looking forward to help the family come out of poverty as she was the most brilliant of them all. Words can’t express my feeling at the moment,” said the victim’s mother, Magret Makohli.
“The death of Natasha has robbed them of a promising young girl,” the sister, Magret Manunure added.
The community however the police and social service did them de-service following their failure to remove Derrick from the streets amid numerous assault reports against him.
“If the police and social service had acted earlier, we could not be talking of this incidence. Several reports have been made against the alleged person assaulting especially women but no action was taken. Now they are reactive because of there has been loss of life,” said one lady only identified as Mai Proud.
ZRP acting Midlands provincial spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende however said the law enforcement agents have been playing their part in dealing with suspected mentally challenged persons.
“We have received two or three cases against Derrick before. However, its wrong for people to assume that we are not doing much as he has been arrested and prosecuted in the past. The problem is that he is sometimes set free at the courts as we do not operate in isolation,” Mukwende said.
Assistant Inspector Mukwende urged society to help in sourcing for medication and taking care of mentally challenged people to avoid violence which might lead to unnecessary loss of lives.