Trafalgar court ‘haunted’
Farai Kuvirimirwa Features Correspondent
Over the past few years, Trafalgar Court has turned into the dreaded haunted flat of Harare. Mysterious happenings including incidents of suicides, fatal accidents and other unfortunate events have been part of the Harare City Council owned building. The building is between the imposing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and internationally acclaimed National Arts Gallery along Julius Nyerere Street.
Despite being associated with the country’s mega infrastructural and architectural structures housing several financial institutions, Trafalgar has become the horror house of Harare.
Once one of the country’s tallest buildings in the pre-independence era, Trafalgar’s legacy has fallen away and replaced by gory tales of death.
That rich history has since, today, become just but a narration as people talk of the mysterious casualties that have captured the people’s imagination.
The news of a jilted woman, Ms Brenda Chinguwo (25), who plunged to her death from the building’s 13th Floor following an altercation with her husband, is but one of the sad news to come from that place.
Ms Chinguwo reportedly had a misunderstanding with her husband Dyvon Takawira Masona and she threw herself off the apartment they shared.
The two had reportedly accompanied each other from Mbare where she was staying after moving out of the flat they shared earlier in the day.
They had their altercation and she killed herself.
The incident was the climax of gory scenes which have been prevalent at the building.
Residents at the flat said Ms Chinguwo’s suicide was not something new and are certain that some phenomenon are at play.
Several incidents have taken place in full view of council traffic police officers and City Parking officials who use the building’s first three floors as their offices.
It is said in the 1980s, two men who stayed together had an altercation following a beer binge with colleagues.
In the evening, people heard noises and a body was recovered on the ground floor the following morning.
“At one time in 2006 a certain young man had an altercation with his mother in Chitungwiza. I think what came into his mind was to go to the most accessible tall building and he jumped from the 13th Floor to his death. We struggled to locate his relatives but eventually his mother identified him,” said a resident who says he had stayed at the flat since independence.
It does not end there.
In 2007, a Harare man fell into an unsecured drainage across the building as he was picking his daughter at the National Arts Gallery.
His body was recovered a day later along the Mukuvisi River tributary near the Chitungwiza road flyover.
In 2012, a two-year-old toddler fell to his death from the building’s 10th Floor.
The minor was said to have been playing with his five-year- old brother around 4pm in their apartment when he fell.
The toddler’s body was only discovered only after crows started gathering for a “feast”.
People have come up with several explanations to the myths surrounding the unfortunate events calling for some cultural or contemporary cleansing ceremonies at the building.
Some have even associated the previous ownership and building name to some of the incidents but efforts to link this was in vain.
The building’s name was derived from the naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the Napoleonic wars on October 21 in 1805.
According to residents at the building, over the past five years, the “haunted” building has claimed many lives leaving a very unpleasant air within.
Mr Joel James said he was concerned with the fact that some people who were not even resident at the flat came to end their lives there.
“There have been a range of mysterious incidents which occur within the building. Sometimes we think of moving out but the higher rentals out there force us to live within the building.
“This building is haunted but we do not know what to do. I wonder if senior council officials are concerned about it?”
Mr James said he occasionally hires a maid whose role is to watch over his children.
“We are afraid of what would happen to our children and we hope and anticipate the council put screen bars to protect residents but nothing of the sort is happening. This place is not safe to raise children. There are no burglar bars and the elevators stopped working many years ago.
“Whenever we think of the numerous cases, you would think you are the next person to die, he said.”
Another resident said the building has been a haven of commercial sex workers who are attracted to the cheap rentals.
“Prostitutes occupy some of the flats and they have had their fare share of scandals at the building. They pay slightly higher than the $160 monthly rentals we pay to some who sublet them.
“It is an offence to sublet the flat. It is surprising to note that this is what has become of the building which we famed to be the tallest building with 13 Floors in 1971.
“I came to stay here and it is unfortunate no development took place afterwards except the people who die under mysterious circumstances,” he said.
Another resident, who is also a council employee, said he has witnessed several cases of people who died within the building leaving several unanswered questions.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association director general Mr George Kandiero said a cleansing ceremony needs to be conducted at Trafalgar Court to appease the place of avenging spirits.
“Clamping can be done at such places and it is a form of cleaning the place. That is why you see in some cases people place flowers over black spots. Several things can be done traditionally to clean the place of the spirit of a dead person which could be calling for the lives of other people.
“There is no problem if churches can come to conduct ceremonies from another angle despite them being against what we do,” he said.
Christ Apostolic Church’s Reverend Matenda Madzoke concurred saying a genuine cleansing ceremony in the form of prayer is necessary.
“Such cases require divine intervention for mysterious things to stop and nothing else. Some church leaders would claim that they can do it and it would still continue. Prayers are necessary and only God will hear the people’s cries and stop everything,” said Rev Madzoke.
City of Harare spokesperson Leslie Gwindi said he would not comment on what council will do regarding the cleansing ceremony.
“Most people who die there do not die because of accidents but it is deliberate. We have not received complaints from them regarding the safety of the building,” he said.