BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
LIKE many Zanu PF youths, 34-year-old Coreen Mazokera felt duty-bound to provide ushering services during the ill-fated ruling party campaign rally addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Bulawayo about two- and-a-half years ago.
It had been a joyful day for Mazokera and other staunch party supporters during the June 23, 2018 rally held at White City Stadium where Mnangagwa expressed confidence of a resounding victory.
Elections were due in a week, with Mnangagwa standing as the Zanu PF presidential candidate following the removal of the late long-time ruler Robert Mugabe the previous year.
As Zanu PF youths danced to music when Mnangagwa walked off the stage after his address, a blast occurred, forever changing Mazokera’s life.
“All I could feel after the blast was excruciating pain on my left leg. I remember screaming and crying seeing blood coming out from my leg, seeing injured people, some motionless,” the mother of three said as she narrated her physical and psychological journey following the bomb explosion.
Mazokera, a Mpopoma resident, is still to come to terms with having to rely on a walking stick after the explosion damaged her left leg.
“At the time, I did not know what was happening, but I remember next to me was a soldier also injured, telling me not to cry; that I would be fine,” she told Sunday Southern Eye.
“I was not fine, and today I am handicapped.”
Scores of people, including Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, security aides, politicians and supporters, suffered varying degrees of injuries from the blast.
Three security aides succumbed to the injuries.
Mnangagwa, who had just left the podium when the explosion went off, blowing off the staircase, and leaving some people with broken limbs, escaped unhurt.
Mazokera was rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital where she was admitted from June 23 to August 20, 2018.
“I was devastated when I was told that I could not return to my normal life when I could walk without a limp,” she said.
And now with no job, or any steady source of income, Mazokera cries foul that she has been neglected.
“All my hospital bills were catered for. I never paid a single cent during my admission
. “When I was discharged, I remember receiving groceries and the like to keep me going,” she said.
“However, it’s more than a year since I last received any form of assistance from the party or government.
“I have not received any form of financial or material support.”
Before the accident, the 34-year-old mother was employed by a confectionary company.
She now wants compensation in the form of a house and vehicle to allow her to move from one place to the other without any hassles.
“I am now unemployed, without any source of income,” Mazokera said.
“I am now handicapped and my kids still struggle to come to terms with it.
“I deserve a house and a vehicle as compensation.”
Investigations into the White City Stadium bombing are turning into a “cold case” with no leads pointing to potential arrests going into three years after the blast.
Only two men, described as vagabonds ,were briefly arrested and later released after it was established they were not connected to the explosion.
Reports said the grenade ricocheted off a tent rope and, according to Mnangagwa in a BBC interview days after the attack, the suspected bomb “exploded a few inches away from me – but it was not my time”.
“I think this is a political action by some persons aggrieved by the current democratic dispensation of the country,” Mnangagwa told the BBC.
“My hunch without evidence is that the people who are aggrieved about the new dispensation are the G40.”
The G40 was a faction loyal to the late Mugabe.
Bomb experts from Belarus joined the Criminal Investigation Department and Military Intelligence, but there was no headway.
The experts from Belarus concluded that the explosive device was an offensive fragmentation grenade made in Russia and lobbed in the direction of Mnangagwa from a distance of 17 to 20 metres.
In 2019, former War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube said it was astounding that the case seemed to have reached a dead-end with no official communication, criticising the government over its lack of commitment to solve the bombing saga.
As questions linger about the bomb saga, victims such as Mazokera also long for answers and compensation.
“It’s only fair that we get compensation, and the attackers get arrested,” she says.