11-year-old boy disappears from home during fuel protests

…father bashed by soldiers while looking for him

A CHITUNGWIZA family is desperately searching for their 11-year-old son, Tinotenda Purumero, who went missing during last Monday’s fuel price hike protests.

His distraught father Herbert Purumero said he has been frantically searching for him ever since. Speaking from his home in St Mary’s, the father of four was beside himself with worry.

“If anyone has seen him or knows what happened to Tinotenda on that day, please, let us know,” he said.

Tinotenda’s grandmother said the family was still in shock over his disappearance.

“He woke up on Monday and I gave him clean clothes to wear, but when he saw the crowds passing by, he gave me the slip and followed. I only realised later that he had gone to the shops where all the chaos was,” she said.

Gogo Purumero went around asking neighbours and friends if anyone had seen him, but no one had information on his whereabouts.

“He never came back. He is so young and my biggest concern is that he suffers from seizures and that makes it worse. He is out there somewhere alone,” she said, weeping.

Tinotenda’s father said he had gone to Ruwa for a project when it happened.

“When I arrived from Ruwa around 3pm, my mother (Gogo Purumero) told me that my son had not returned home,” he said.

Purumero braved the tense political situation at the shops and decided to go to look for his son, accompanied by a nephew.

“There were soldiers everywhere, but I just wanted to find my son and misjudged the mood. We were summoned by some soldiers who ordered me to take off my hat and ordered us to lie down. They proceeded to beat us up, accusing us of being part of the violence. There was no chance to explain my issue,” he said.

After their release, Purumero did not stop looking and went to make an official report at St Mary’s Police Post.

“I was so consumed with worry that I went to Makoni Police Station to report again, but the situation there was scary. People were being beaten up and I am lucky I managed to escape,” he said.

Everyday Purumero goes out in search of his son and is hopeful they will find him unharmed.

“Maybe he got caught up in the disturbances and was arrested along with other people, but why hasn’t someone alerted me if that is the case,” he said.

Purumero said he would check at the courts if his son was among the suspects arrested for violence and looting. The juvenile was last seen wearing a pair of black trousers, with white stripes and a colourful T-shirt.


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