Saturday, 11 December 2021

HOW DID MY CHILD END UP IN THE BOOT?

A DARK cloud that engulfed Chiredzi town following the death of two minors in a car boot still lingers, weeks after the unfortunate incident.

The two minors, Lynette Musungatu and Celine Shiri, were both aged three.

They suffocated and died in a car boot while two other children survived after Javas Day Care owner Zhuwakina Javangwe (Gogo Javangwe) allegedly “forgot” them when she parked the car to attend to other things at the learning centre.

It is alleged that the minors were left unattended in the car (Honda CRV) for over three hours.

Subsequently, Javangwe was arrested for murder and attempted murder charges. She is being charged for contravening the Education Act by operating an unlicensed crèche.

However, the pre-school owner has since been released on $8 000 bail and is currently reporting to Masvingo Central Police Station once every Friday.

To date, there are still more questions than answers pertaining to the fateful day. Rage, sorrow and acrimony currently grip the deceased minors’ parents.

Residents are equally disturbed with the matter. In fact, the subject remains topical in the sugarcane farming town as the community is yet to ‘‘fully unpack’’ the terrifying mystery.

Crèche authorities have made the situation worse by not publicly explaining what happened nor reaching out to the bereaved families.

“They are unremorseful about what happened. I need to talk to Gogo Javangwe. There are lots of questions I need to ask her,” said a visibly shaken Lynette Gotsani before breaking down in tears.

Gotsani lost her first and only child, Lynette, in the mishap. Her daughter had enrolled at the pre-school early this year.

But, according to the mother, all was not well, as Lynette started complaining of ill-treatment shortly after enrolment.

“She loved school very much and was always excited everyday. However, she suddenly changed and would complain of harassment. It got worse to the extent that she would at times refuse to attend school,” revealed Gotsani, a beauty therapist.

“As a parent, I thought she just wanted to stay at home and play so I would force her to attend class. She still showed me that she was not happy. I became worried and eventually made up my mind about transferring her to another school next year.”

Unfortunately, fate acted otherwise before she could take action.

The distraught mother is still struggling to understand how her daughter ended up in a car trunk.

“When they left home, she was properly seated with other learners on the car’s back seat. I am trying to understand how she ended up in the car boot, let alone being forgotten,” she said.

Vitalis Shiri, Celine’s father, is equally baffled.

So disturbed is Shiri that he was reluctant to engage The Sunday Mail Society crew when we visited his place of residence.

Actually, he now spends most of his time locked in the house, windows closed despite the extremely high temperatures that characterise Chiredzi.  Most of the time he will be in deep slumber.

The last time Shiri saw his daughter alive was when he bid her farewell as the crèche owner picked her up in a Honda CRV around 7am on November 23. Just like in the case of Gotsani, Celine was Shiri’s first and only child.

“I am heartbroken and failing to come to terms with what happened. I feel like sleep gives me the peace I need right now,” he said in a feeble voice, resting his head in cupped hands, eyes soaked in tears.

But his responses and gestures clearly show the gentleman is full of rage. He is desperately in need of answers and justice.

“She was complaining of ill-treatment at school, but the authorities were usually defensive and accused her of lying. We had decided to transfer her to another school next year. I wish I had swiftly responded. She could have been alive today. I regret not acting on time,” said a dejected Shiri.

“All I know is she left home in the back seat of the car. How did she end up in the car boot? Nothing is making sense at all.”

Many people argue that the manner in which school authorities reacted after the incident was not only callous, but shocking and equally disturbing.

Instead of rushing the two boys that survived, but were unconscious, to hospital, the school staff led by Mr Kennedy Javangwe, husband to the pre-school owner, are said to have opted to dump Mrs Mazoyo’s unconscious son at home.

“I carried his lifeless body from the gate after he was dropped off by the pre-school owner’s husband. For a moment, I thought he was dead,” said Mrs Mazoyo.

Mr Javangwe did not explain anything to the parents, but simply asked them to try and give him some cold water as a remedy to the situation.

“Instead of forcing him to drink cold water, which was not possible because of the state he was in, his father quickly rushed him to hospital where he later recovered,” added Mrs Mazoyo.

She has on several occasions tried to question her son on what transpired on the day, but the minor has remained tight-lipped.

He is still traumatised by the episode.

“He won’t say a thing. He is disturbed and whenever someone talks about the incident he becomes agitated and asks me not to respond,” Mrs Mazoyo said.

“At times you can tell that the boy is deep in thought, something he never used to do before. Sometimes he shouts out the names of his deceased colleagues. My son needs help and I do not know what to do.”

Mrs Mazoyo said the crèche owner was naturally mean and a hard-to-engage character.

Information gathered by The Sunday Mail Society indicates that most parents in the area often abruptly withdrew their children from the pre-school a few weeks or months after enrolment.

In worst cases, some are said to have done so a couple of days after.

According to Chiredzi residents, Gogo Javangwe is highly temperamental and often had marital squabbles, in public, with her husband.

But this undesirable side of her is believed to have reached alarming levels some six years back after she lost her infant in a “freak accident”.

“About six years ago, the lady lost her child . . . the toddler mysteriously drowned in a swimming pool and since then, mentally, she has not been well. She suffered serious depression,” revealed a neighbour who has known the family for close to a decade.

“It got worse! She was mentally ill for some time, but later recovered. It resulted in her being barred from driving by the husband until early last year when she established a pre-school.

“She started doing some school-runs and we thought she was now fine. However, her temper always got us worried all the time.”

Another resident also let the cat out of the bag.

“She was in the habit of placing learners in the car boot as a form of punishment whenever they misbehaved. My child was a victim of the crude punishment on several occasions. I transferred her after one of the incidences,” said another parent who opted to remain anonymous.

Efforts to engage the pre-school owner or the husband were futile.

“You can talk to her (Gogo Javangwe) directly, she will answer for herself. In fact, she is the one who can answer all your questions,” said the husband, Mr Javangwe.

The couple runs several businesses in Chiredzi, but their unregistered school has since been shut down. Sunday Mail

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