BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
RESIDENTS at the Grasslands Research Station (GRS) in Marondera are living in fear of a serial rapist and killer causing terror around the area.
GRS is located just outside Marondera town and is home to scores of families, mainly civil servants.
Four women, including an Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor, have fallen victim to the rapist, with two of the victims having been killed after the rape.
One woman was raped, while the other managed to flee from the suspect after being attacked.
A male cyclist was also reportedly attacked by an unknown man in the area.
Police in Marondera are yet to ascertain whether the heinous acts are being perpetrated by the same suspect.
Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson Inspector Simon Chazovachii last week said police were investigating the cases and urged women to travel in groups.
“Police are hunting for the suspect or suspects targeting women. We urge women in that area to travel in groups as it is now dangerous to move alone,” he said.
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists-organised discussion with residents from GRS and others, one of the women Jingang Tazivazvino said: “Our lives have changed, there is no longer freedom as before. We are now moving in groups and in fear of the unknown. The most hurting thing is the stigma of living at GRS now referred to as Kumabhinya because of the recent attacks. It is bad and scary.”
On January 16, a woman believed to be in her 30s was raped and stoned to death near GRS. Her head was crushed and her half naked body was covered with grass and tree branches.
The deceased’s neck was tied with a cable and a blouse. Both hands were tied with shoelaces.
Police found two satchels and a handbag placed on her abdomen.
On February 7, an AFM female pastor Nelia Makaringe (45) was raped and killed in a bush at Grasslands after she had gone for prayers.
The perpetrator left a note shoved in the victim’s backside.
On Valentine’s Day, a 36-year-old woman from Grasslands, Marondera, was allegedly raped by an unknown man, while on her way to collect her children from school.
Upon reaching a plantation, the suspect caught up with her and demanded her cellphone. She surrendered it to him before being raped.
Last Wednesday, another woman managed to flee from her attacker at a police farm in Marondera near GRS. She was on her way to fetch her child from school when an unknown man pounced on her.
“We are living in fear due to recent attacks on women. We appeal to the authorities to bring the culprits to book,” said Memory Ndoro (41) of Marondera.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Mashonaland East chapter’s Tsitsi Chikonyora said women in Marondera will mark the International Day of Women by visiting their colleagues at GRS to offer them psycho-social support.
Follow Jairos on Twitter @jairossaunyama