A ZIMBABWEAN SECURITY guard poisoned his three children with cyanide and threw their bodies in an abandoned mine shaft before committing suicide by also drinking the poison at his mother’s homestead. Joachim Paundi, of a section called RB at the Fengrig Mine in Shurugwi, forced his three children Nyasha, 6, Diana, 13, and Amo, 15, to down the toxic substance after his wife, Eunice, resisted his plans to marry a second wife, relatives said.
Paundi’s uncle, Tinos Mungenge-Rungani, told The Chronicle that Eunice retaliated by engaging in an adulterous relationship with Paundi’s boss, David Stoddart.
Paundi’s triple murder and suicide at around 11AM on Monday came a day after his brother also committed suicide over a dispute with his wife.
Mungenge-Rungani said Paundi and Eunice would occasionally fight as a result of the love triangle before Monday’s tragic incident.
Mungenge-Rungani said his nephew stole cyanide from Stoddart, a chrome miner.
Cyanide is a rare but extremely toxic chemical used mainly by the mining industry to process ore. It is highly regulated in Zimbabwe, although poachers have used it to kill elephants. It works by making the body unable to use life-sustaining oxygen.
Mungenge-Rungani said on Monday morning, Paundi called his children to accompany him to a hilltop for a prayer.
“The children complied as they were not aware of their father’s evil intentions. He then forced Nyasha and Amo to drink poison and they immediately collapsed. It appeared Diana wanted to escape after noticing her siblings collapsing and Paundi struck her on the head with a stone. He then forced the cyanide down her throat,” he said.
Mungenge-Rungani said Paundi then carried the bodies and dumped them in a disused mine shaft at Fengrig Mine which was abandoned a long time ago.
He said Paundi fled the scene and went to his rural home in Mukandapi Village, also in Shurugwi, carrying whisky that he had laced with cyanide.
“He saw his mother and thanked her for his life and all she had done for him. Since he had a history of alcohol abuse, his mother never took him seriously. The mother went to take a bath. But when she came back, she found Paundi dead. He had apparently drank the whisky laced with cyanide,” said Mungenge-Rungani.
He said on learning that her children had been killed by their father, Eunice suffered a mental shock and has since been admitted to Shurugwi District Hospital where she is said to be under psychiatric evaluation.
Mungenge-Rungani said his nephew was also abusing drugs, besides having domestic problems. He said he had on many occasions advised him to stop abusing drugs but to no avail.
“We tried to help him to stop taking drugs but he wouldn’t listen.
“The drugs were destroying him mentally and spiritually. I tried to refer him to other people who could help him stop the madness and that’s when I realised that his private thoughts were now a danger to his family and friends,” said his uncle.
Stoddart denied having an adulterous relationship with Paundi’s wife. He said the allegations were baseless and unfounded.
He, however, told The Chronicle that he had spoken to Paundi about the accusations.
“He accused me of sleeping with his wife but I told him on numerous occasions that I had nothing to do with his wife because she was like family to me,” said Stoddart.
He confirmed that Paundi had stolen cyanide from his premises.
“On Monday morning some of my workers saw him stealing cyanide from my premises.
“He, however, denied stealing the stuff when I asked him. There are 12 witnesses who say he stole the cyanide,” said Stoddart.
Mungenge-Rungani said Paundi’s brother, Brain Phiri, also committed suicide by drinking poison following a domestic dispute with his wife on Sunday.
He said Phiri, of Mambowa suburb in Shurugwi, had a heated argument with his wife, Leah Mwale, on Saturday which later degenerated into a fist fight.
Mungenge-Rungani said Mwale later ganged up with her brothers and severely assaulted Phiri.
Mungenge-Rungani said Mwale left their house after fighting with her husband and went to her parents’ home.
“Phiri and Mwale have always been fighting and each time they fought, she would team up with her brothers to assault him. This had been going on until Sunday when Phiri had an argument with his wife. Phiri downed cyanide at his house in Mambowa. He was found dead in the bedroom,” said Mungenge- Rungani.
Police attended the scene and took Phiri’s body to Shurugwi District Hospital for a post-mortem.
“I’m still failing to come to terms with the fact that two of my sister’s children decided to commit suicide within 24 hours,” said Mungenge-Rungani.
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko said police were investigating the death of Paundi and his children as well as Phiri’s a day earlier.