By Pamela Shumba
A soldier has been arrested after he went berserk and attempted to blow up a shopping complex in Queenspark West suburb, Bulawayo using dangerous explosives following an altercation with shop attendants.
Admire Mangeya sent shoppers, imbibers, vendors and workers at the shopping complex running for their lives at about 4PM on Tuesday after he set the explosives in protest over a spilt glass of beer.
He was immediately apprehended by the police who recovered the explosives.
Witnesses, who could not identify the type of explosives, said an army bomb squad told them that if they had detonated, they would have razed the entire complex.
When The Chronicle visited Mangeya’s rented home in Queenspark West yesterday morning, police officers and officials from the Zimbabwe National Army One Infantry Brigade were searching his house for explosives.
The exercise took more than an hour during which a handcuffed Mangeya and his wife, only identified as Mai Craig, were assisting detectives with the search.
Shop attendants at Regal Supermarket at the shopping complex told The Chronicle that Mangeya lost his marbles after one of them spilled his glass of beer while he was playing pool with friends.
“We usually have a problem with people who come to our shop to play pool. They cheat by using old coins as tokens. Mangeya and his friends were playing the game and my aunt, Ms Rumbidzai Mukerekete, approached them and told them to notify her before they punch tokens into the machine.
“She accidentally spilled Mangeya’s drink and he became angry and violent, threatening to beat us up. He shouted obscenities at the top of his voice. He eventually calmed down after some shoppers spoke to him and we reimbursed him $1 for his drink and promised to buy his water glass,” said Miss Mary Shumba, one of the workers at Regal Supermarket.
She said Mangeya went away but later came back with some explosives that he connected to electric cables while he was sitting at the entrance to the shop.
“Initially we thought it was a joke but we realised that he was serious after he left the explosives at the door and stood at a distance.
“People started screaming for help and fled from the shops. After the explosives failed to detonate at the expected time, he ran back to reset them.
“Fortunately there were police officers nearby who quickly apprehended him and took away the explosives,” said a terrified Ms Shumba.
She added that Mangeya was arrested and taken to Queenspark Police Station.
A visibly traumatised Ms Mukerekete was sobbing yesterday and struggled to narrate “the terrifying incident” to this newspaper.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango yesterday declined to comment, referring questions to the ZNA.
ZNA public relations officer Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore yesterday said he could not comment as he had had not received information about the incident.
“I can’t help you because I’m in a meeting,” said Lt Col Makotore. The Chronicle