The woman, Precious Kadumba, had had to leave her three children, aged 12, eight and five, in the custody of her husband, after she fled their home in fear of her life.
‘I sensed danger’
Early last month, she sought refuge with relatives in Harare, a five-hour bus ride from her home in Birchenough Bridge, in Zimbabwe’s eastern Manicaland province. But last Friday, as she travelled home to fetch the children, she got a terrifying sense that something was about to go tragically wrong.
“He (the husband) kept calling, inquiring where exactly we were along the way. I sensed danger, because he would phone after short intervals,” Kadumba told the Manica Post, a local state-run weekly.
“He later sent me a message saying he had killed our children,” she told the paper.
When she arrived in Birchenough Bridge, a dusty village on the banks of the Save River, she went straight to the police.
House on fire
“We also phoned neighbours, who rushed to our homestead and discovered that the house was on fire. They managed to rescue the eldest boy, but the other two were already dead,” she told the paper at her children’s funeral this week.
The sole survivor, 12-year-old Tanaka, is now recovering in Manicaland’s main public hospital in Mutare, with deep wounds to his head. He’ll have to cope with the trauma of losing his two siblings – eight-year-old Trish and five-year-old Trinity.
Husband on the run
His father, Fashion Mupakati (42), is now reported to be on the run.
But why would a mother leave her children in the custody of a husband who had only recently been released from serving a 20-month jail term for killing his girlfriend?
“I had no choice because of the way I escaped from him. I had to go right away at that moment and then arrange for the children to join me,” she told the paper.
But that never happened. It’s a tragic omission that Kadumba will have to live with for the rest of her life.