Scene where the shooting took place in Zimbabwe
A soldier fired about 20 shots, killing his wife, her two siblings and injuring his one-year-old son before shooting himself in a failed suicide attempt in New Magwegwe suburb yesterday following an infidelity row.
The soldier Carlos Chapeyama (23) who is based in Gweru and his 18-month-old son Tlowi Chapeyama whom he shot once on the leg, are battling for life at Mpilo Central Hospital.
His wife, Ashley Phiri (21) and her siblings, Nkosivumile Ncube (16) and Rita Nkomo (23) died on the spot.
Ms Phiri’s 81-year-old granny, Mrs Esther Nkomo managed to flee from the house when Chapeyama went berserk and started shooting the deceased while another relative, Mr Sipho Ndlovu (34) hid in the lounge where he had been sleeping when the mayhem started at around 1AM.
The suspect allegedly fired about 20 shots during a power outage caused by the rains, killing his three victims on the spot.
Chapeyama and his wife lived in Mutare but she is alleged to have recently returned to her parents, accusing Chapeyama of physically abusing her.
Zimbabwe National Army Public Relations Director, Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore, said Chapeyana was yesterday under military police guard at the hospital.
“The ZNA regrets to announce the occurrence of a family shooting incident which happened in New Magwegwe, Bulawayo. The circumstances of the shootout are that a member of the ZNA, Private Chapeyama, had a long standing dispute with his wife, the now deceased Ashley Phiri.
“On the day in question, the ZNA member had been assigned night guard duties at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation transmitter at Guinea Fowl, Gweru. He then finished his duty and sneaked out of the camp with his service rifle. He then travelled to Bulawayo with the AK47 folding butt rifle concealed in a bag. Pvt Chapeyama went straight to his in-laws’ house,” said Lt Col Makotore.
He said Chapeyama randomly opened fire on the three deceased sisters, killing them on the spot. Lt Col Makotore said the child who was also shot survived but sustained serious injuries.
“After the shooting, Chapenya tried to commit suicide by turning the rifle on himself but was seriously injured. The perpetrator, Pvt Chapeyama, is now detained under heavy Military Police guard at Mpilo Hospital. The child is admitted at the same hospital,” he said.
Lt Col Makotore said the army will assist in the burials of the deceased.
Mourners at the home of the victim
An uncle to the victims, Mr Ntando Nkomo said the couple had domestic problems but they never suspected that Chapeyama would resort to murder.
“When he arrived from Mutare on Monday, he came here to see his child and told us of several issues, mostly suspected infidelity matters. Ashley repeatedly complained about her partner, accusing him of infidelity. This time Carlos also suspected that his wife was also cheating. I advised him to bring his parents so we would meet and discuss the matter,” he said.
“At around 12AM, Ashley phoned me, saying Carlos was at their house, banging their doors and threatening to kill her. I phoned my sister (Ashley’s aunt Judith Nkomo) and returned to sleep thinking it was just one of those issues, since they always had issues. An hour later, Carlos phoned me, using Ashley’s phone and said he had killed all of them and that I should come and collect the bodies. He immediately switched off the phone.”
Mr Nkomo said when the soldier called him he was at his house in Pumula suburb and he immediately phoned the police and then rushed to the scene.
He said he found the bodies lying in pools of blood in the kitchen and was told that about 20 shots had been fired.
Mr Nkomo said Carlos was also in the kitchen, with the rifle next to him.
“We thank God our mother and cousin survived the shooting. I’m still trembling,” he said.
Mourners gather at the house of the murdered women
Mr Nkomo said the family was facing financial challenges and burying three people was a tall order.
Miss Judith Nkomo, an aunt, said Chapeyama had not yet paid lobola, but the couple had been together for close to five years.
“When she recently returned from Mutare, she came to me and told me that Carlos was cheating on her and was also physically abusing her. She had serious scars all over her body from beatings,” she said.
A neighbour who preferred anonymity said as paramedics and police were taking the soldier to the ambulance, he cried pleading with them to hurry up saying he was in great pain.
The neighbour said when they heard the gun shots, they did not go outside to check because they feared for their lives.
“We heard many gunshots and suspected it was robbers firing shots and when this continued we thought it was probably Criminal Investigation Detectives firing warning shots in order to apprehend criminals,” said the neighbour.