Cletus Mushanawani and Lovemore Kadzura
A LANDMINE exploded in Chiwetu area of Makoni West on Wednesday afternoon after being detonated by a motorised grader that was rehabilitating a road, injuring one person in the process.
Both Makoni West legislator Cde Kudzi Chipanga and the police confirmed the incident.
The injured villager, Mr Felix Mupanganyemba, was hit by fragments from the landmine and was rushed to Rusape General Hospital where he was treated and discharged.
The driver of the District Development Fund-owned motorised grader, Mr Emmanuel Vambe, escaped unhurt.
Mr Vambe was working on the Chiduku-Marondera Road, 3km from St Theresa’s Mission when the incident happened.
Rusape District police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Muzondiwa Clean said a villager, Mr Everest Bvumbi, told the police that he was one of the five war collaborators who planted the landmine in 1977, but when de-mining was done in the area in 1982 he failed to locate it.
“On Wednesday, Emmanuel Vambe (33), who works at DDF Rest Camp, Rusape, as a grader operator, was clearing roadside drains along Marondera-Chiduku road about 3km from St Theresa’s Mission when the landmine detonated. During the process, the front wheel ran over an embedded anti-tank landmine and it exploded.
“The grader was damaged. A passerby, Felix Mupanganyemba, was hit by fragments from the landmine and was rushed to Rusape General Hospital, where he was treated and discharged. A report was made and Zimbabwe National Army engineers attended the scene,” said Asst Insp Clean.
He added: “A villager, Everest Bvumbi, told the engineers that he was among the war collaborators who planted the landmine in 1977. He further said when de-mining was done in the area in 1982 he had forgotten the place they had planted the landmine,” said Asst Insp Clean.
Although initial reports had indicated that the bomb had exploded at the Zanu-PF National Secretary for Youth Affairs’ Headlands farm, Cde Chipanga – who was attending a solidarity march for the First Family in Harare – was quick to dismiss the report.
“I was phoned 20 minutes after the incident and that is the reason why I continued with the programme that I was attending in Harare. Yes, the bomb exploded in my constituency and not my farm.
“From the information I gathered, the driver of the motorised grader detonated the landmine when he was working on the road rehabilitation programme in the constituency. I want to take this opportunity to wish the injured villager a speedy recovery,” said Cde Chipanga.
He also dismissed reports linking the explosion to sabotage.
“The area where the bomb exploded was a well-known battlefield during the liberation struggle and the landmine was planted during that time.
“It could have been exposed by the heavy rains received this year and exploded due to the weight of the motorised grader. We will soon be engaging engineers from the Zimbabwe National Army to comb the area for more land mines.
“The incident was a temporary setback. We will continue rehabilitating all roads that were badly damaged by the rains,” said Cde Chi- panga.
Villagers from the area said the area was nicknamed Chimbambaira because of the land-mines planted during the war.