Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A MAN described as a “prayer warrior” by his family was buried yesterday together with his two children he killed in cold blood last week together with their mother, leaving unanswered questions as to what could have driven him to commit the multiple murders.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed Mutasa Cemetery in Gweru when the Woodlands suburb vendor who collapsed and died at Gweru Magistrates Courts was buried together with his children.
Leo Kanyimo (30) allegedly murdered his wife Chipo Shava (30) and their two children, Innocent (4) and one-year-old Tadisa, in cold blood using an axe and a knife on Tuesday last week.
He died two days later at Gweru Magistrates Courts while waiting to be arraigned before a magistrate for initial remand.
Leo, Innocent and Tadisa were buried at Mutasa Cemetery yesterday afternoon, while Chipo will be buried on a date to be announced at her rural home in Mberengwa.
Government came to the aid of the family assisting with the four coffins, blankets, transport and food.
The Gweru community led by mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe came in numbers to pay their last respects to Leo and his children.
Chipo’s relatives allegedly snubbed the burial of their son-in-law and their grandchildren, amid indications that Leo’s father had sent emissaries to Mberengwa to bring the two families to the negotiating table.
Leo’s other child, a six-year-old boy, who survived after he was rescued by a neighbour, also attended the funeral.
First to be buried was Leo in the adult section of the cemetery before Tadisa and finally Innocent were buried in the children’s section.
Leo, who is said to have been extremely violent at the time he was arrested by the police with the assistance of members of the public, could have succumbed to injuries sustained when he was apprehended.
Police sources said he met instant justice during his arrest “because he was extremely violent”.
Leo’s aunt Ms Kedina Kanyimo said she knew him as a quiet, peace-loving person and a prayer warrior, adding that the family was still in shock after learning that he had murdered his family in cold blood. “We are still in shock and so is everyone around here because this is very unusual and uncalled for. Leo is my sister’s son and he was born in Chiweshe. After the separation of his parents, my sister moved back with him and soon she remarried and we grew up with Leo,” said Ms Kanyimo.
“He was a quiet and peace-loving person and was a prayer warrior. He attended AFM church and I started hearing about the alleged murder from social media. It came as a shocker because we know him as a peacemaker and a hard worker.”
She said Chipo was Leo’s second wife after his first wife abandoned him for another man saying he was poor.
“He then married Chipo and they have been together for seven years. During those years, I knew them as greatly in love and that is why this is shocking. Since I was not there on the day of the murder, I wouldn’t comment on it but I believe it’s the work of the devil,” she said.
Ms Kanyimo said Leo’s father had gone to Mberengwa to join Chipo’s family so that the families could work together.
“Chipo’s relatives are not here, yes. But so is Leo’s father who has gone to Mberengwa with some emissaries. We want her to be buried by the two families. We are sorry about what happened and unfortunately we were not there and will never know what drove Leo to commit this heinous crime on his wife and children,” she said.
Said Leo’s brother, Precious: “After all has been said and done, I just want to thank the Government for providing the State assisted funeral. We had nowhere to start financially and the Government has made it possible. Leo and his children have been buried here and Chipo will be buried in Mberengwa thanks to the Government intervention.”
A friend, Mike Nyabeza, said Leo was always busy with his vending business.
“On the day of the murder, Leo suddenly decided to go back home. After some minutes, we were called by his neighbours for help. We tried to open the door but it was locked. We managed to break the window only to find his wife dead on the bed while one of his children was in a pool of blood. We don’t know what really transpired, but on the sad day Leo was too quiet showing that something was bothering him,” he said.
Gweru assistant district development coordinator Mr Tarisai Mudadigwa said Government had assisted the family to bury Leo, his wife and children.
“This is a State-assisted funeral after it was noticed that the burial of these people might be difficult for the remaining family members,” he said.
Cllr Makombe said there is need to consider counselling people who have not been able to provide for their families due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns which cause mental stress.
“We need to have the people counselled because there is this mental health stress. We might call it evil spirits but we need to bring our heads together,” he said.
At around 14.30 PM on Tuesday last week, Leo murdered his wife Chipo who was also a vendor at the shopping centre, his son Innocent and Tadisa.
Chipo’s body lay on the bed and she had a deep cut on the chin and on the head.
Blood had dripped from her onto the floor.
Innocent was lying down on the floor naked with a stab wound on the left side of the chest.
Furniture in the room was all over the place, an indication that Chipo and Innocent tried to fight off their killer.
A bloody wooden hoe handle was near Chipo and a kitchen knife near Innocent.
Tadisa’s body lay on the road about 200 metres away from the house. She had a deep cut on the head.