St Valentine’s Day Bloodshed

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IT was a typical Friday the 13th or St Valentine’s Day Massacre at a farm just outside Harare when a 29-year-old farm security guard fatally shot his girlfriend and her younger sister before turning the gun on himself in a suspected crime of passion. The two sisters had visited the man, Tawanda Galasi, ostensibly for an early St Valentine’s Day celebration before Jean Mahebe, 23, Gatsi’s girlfriend received a phone call from a suspected boyfriend that infuriated Galasi who then shot her and her sister Jill, 21, before turning the weapon on himself in the bush about 500m away from the crime scene.

That was soon after a concerned neighbour who had come to enquire about the cause of the gunfire had a narrow escape by hiding behind the walls of a wooden cabin at the premises when Galasi fired at him.

Galasi spared the Mahebe sisters’ three-year-old cousin who had accompanied them.

Jean, her younger sister Jill and Galasi had earlier been seen in a celebratory mood as they visited a nearby tuckshop to buy drinks and bread.

Spithead, a 50-hectare farm, is owned by Ruth Ncube, an executive with a local insurance company. She was out of the capital when the incident happened.

According to workmates, Jean, who celebrated her 23rd birthday on Thursday and Galasi had a two-year relationship.

According to farm manager Michael Nyamanhindi, Galasi requested to be excused from work so that he could entertain Jean who had just visited him.

He said he heard gunshots from Galasi’s wooden cabin and went to investigate.

“Upon arrival, I asked what had happened, but Galasi who was by the door, threatened me saying: ‘Mike go away I’ve no problem with you. I want to deal with these people.’ He said all this while he was loading another round before I ran away. That was when I heard another gunshot which I presume he was firing at the younger sister,” said Nyamanhindi.

“The last word that I heard during the ensuing altercation as I left was when Galasi shouted at his girlfriend saying: ‘Jean, I told you that I will kill you when you cheat on me’.”

Nyamanhindi said he called Ncube and then left the farm in a bid to seek help from neighbours. He heard yet another gunshot which he presumed was Galasi opening fire on himself.

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, Michael Gomo said he rushed to the farm after Ncube called him to investigate the report.

“When I arrived, the younger sister was still alive but struggling to talk,” said 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 collected their mother.”

When our Harare Bureau 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 bush nearby.

Relatives of the two girls, including their mother, could be seen weeping uncontrollably as they grappled to come to terms with the tragedy.

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

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

The girls’ father, Joseph Mahebe who works at government pension office, said his bosses informed him about the incident towards lunch hour.

“They just told me that one of my children had been injured 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.”

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