Friday, 13 February 2015

St Valentine’s Day massacre

IT was a typical Friday the 13th or St Valentine’s Day Massacre at Spithead Farm just outside Harare yesterday when a 29-year-old guard fatally shot his girlfriend and her younger sister before turning the gun on himself.
This picture collage shows (clockwise) murdered sisters, Jean and Jill Mahebe, their mother at the murder scene, the father speaking to journalists, policemen carrying the killer Tawanda Galasi’s body from the bush and the covered bodies of the sisters
Tawanda Galasi committed the crime in a fit of rage after his girlfriend Jean Mahebe (23), who had visited him in the company of her sister Jill (21), had allegedly received a call from an unnamed boyfriend.

The sisters had visited Galasi, ostensibly for an early St Valentine’s Day celebration.

After gunning down the sisters, Galasi turned the weapon on himself in a bush about 500 metres from the crime scene.

The farm manager Mr Michael Nyamanhindi, who rushed to enquire about the gunshots, narrowly escaped by hiding behind the wall of a wooden cabin when Galasi fired at him.
Galasi spared his victims’ three-year-old cousin who had accompanied them.

Jean, Jill and Galasi had earlier been seen in a celebratory mood at a nearby tuckshop where they bought drinks and bread.

Spithead, a 50-hectare farm, is owned by Mrs Ruth Ncube, an executive with a local insurance firm.

She was out of the capital when the incident happened.

According to workmates, Jean — who turned 23 on Thursday —and Galasi had a two-year relationship.

Mr Nyamanhindi said Galasi requested to be excused from work so that he could entertain Jean.

When the manager heard gunshots from Galasi’s wooden cabin, he went to investigate.

“Upon arrival, I asked what had happened, but Galasi who was on the door, threatened me saying: ‘Mike ibva pano handina chitema newe rega ndipedzerane nevanhu vangu’. He said all this while he was loading another round before I ran away. That was when I heard another gunshot sound which I presume he was firing at the younger sister,” said Mr Nyamanhindi.

“I last heard Galasi saying: ‘Jean, I told you that I will kill you when you cheat on me’”.

Mr Nyamanhindi said he called Mrs Ncube and left the farm to seek help from neighbours.

He then heard another gunshot which he presumed was Galasi opening fire on himself.

Mr Nyamanhindi said the firearm was licensed and Galasi had been trained at Morris Depot on the use of a firearm.

Zvimba East ward 35 councillor, Mr Michael Gomo said he rushed to the farm after Mrs Ncube called him to investigate the report.

“When I arrived, the younger sister was still alive but struggling to talk,” said Mr Gomo. “I rushed to the police and organised that an ambulance be called. We then went to the residence of these girls in Granary high-density suburb near Whitecliff where we brought their mother.”

When The Herald arrived at the scene police officers had cordoned off the area and bodies of the two sisters were still in the cabin, while Galasi’s body was still in the nearby bush.

Relatives of the two girls, including their mother, wept uncontrollably as they grappled to come to terms with the tragedy.

Officer commanding Harare South administration Superintendent Kani Moyo was leading the police in gathering information, while waiting for the police homicide team.

“There is a guard who shot two girls. We are still to establish the motive behind as we are still waiting for experts like the forensic unit to arrive,” said Supt Moyo.

The girls’ father, Mr Joseph Mahebe who works at the Government Pension Office, said his bosses informed him about the incident towards lunch hour.

“They just told me that one of my child had fallen and they gave me a vehicle to go home,” he said. “What surprised me was that people were mourning. That was when I got a briefing of what transpired.”

Mr Mahebe said there were a lot of unanswered questions, one of which was that he did not understand why Jill ended up at the farm when she was supposed to be at work in town.

“I am quite devastated,” he said. “These were my two eldest children out of four. I have not even understood what really transpired. Only yesterday I was telling Jean that I would have wanted to buy her a birthday present, but I had no money.” Herald
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