‘Grenade blast probe team clueless’

THE multi-agency security team investigating a deadly grenade attack which occurred soon after President Emmerson Mnangagwa left the stage following his address at a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo in June has been groping in the dark without any useful leads and the probe is on the verge of being called off.

ANDREW KUNAMBURA

This is despite the fact that government had hired foreign security agents, including Russian and Belarusian ballistics experts, to assist in the investigations.

They were hired to help the local probe team, comprising of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), police detectives and the military, which had struggled to get to the bottom of the matter. The team also occasionally clashed over how to proceed with the investigations after several leads yielded no results.

A grenade went off soon after Mnangagwa and other Zanu PF leaders, including Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, left the stage following his address at the stadium on June 23. Two security personnel were killed by the blast.
The blast killed Colour Sergeant Stanley Mugunzva of the Presidential Guard unit in Dzivaresekwa, Harare, who was assigned to Chiwenga and Nelson Dube, a security aide to Mohadi.

Informed government officials close to the investigation told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that despite Mnangagwa’s recent claims that government now knew who was behind the attack; a breakthrough in the probe still eluded investigators nearly two months after the deadly explosion.

This comes amid indications that state security agents involved in the investigation are pulling in different directions, with military sources saying the probe has been abandoned for lack of headway while police sources said it was still on.

It was not immediately clear if the foreign investigators are still in the country.

“The investigation is not going anywhere. In fact, there is no investigation taking place anymore. There has not been any progress. No one was prepared for this event. It took everyone by surprise and we actually didn’t know where to start,” a military source said.

“All hope was pinned on tracing the origin of the grenade which was used in the attack using fragments which were collected from the scene, but efforts were hampered by the fact that we do not have proper forensic laboratories in the country. So the fragments were taken outside the country for analysis and we have not heard anything on that up to now and the whole probe has lost steam.”

However, a senior detective close to the investigation said the probe was still going on, although no motivating finding has been made.

“There is still interest in the investigation but we have not been able to establish anything yet. There has not been any proper lead and investigators think it’s not going anywhere,” the detective said.

A week after the attack, two Bulawayo men — Douglas Musekiwa and John Zulu — were arrested but were later released without a charge after investigators failed to find any evidence linking them to the crime. An unnamed suspect, described by investigators as a tallish and dark young man, who was initially identified by investigators as having hurled the grenade that missed Mnangagwa by a whisker, has been kept away from formal police custody after he was taken in by the military.

Curiously, details of the investigation have also been kept away from police national spokesperson Charity Charamba.

“I am in the dark with regards to that. I have not received any briefing and I will have to check with those involved in the investigation before I can say anything,” she said. Following the attack, government has re-organised the security arrangements around Mnangagwa, who has been seen at public events with up to 40 close-security boduguards.