Meet Epworth’s unusual resident
Epworth on the south-eastern verges of Harare, is a sprawling suburb, with mainly no running water, unnamed streets where grinding poverty, vice and little everything else bad happens.
Having started as a squatter camp, and morphed into a modern shanty town, with only a few dotted houses having electricity and decent homes. The majority of the people live in squalid conditions, here, everything goes. Life here is tough and it is survival of the fittest for all and sundry.
At one of the house, a house of a pre-fabricated wood totters with age, the black anti-termite treatment on the weather-bitten planks has faded with time.
I spot a white man, in faded shed and am sure his life has faded like the colour of the planks. A collapsed deep well by the house is evident of his water woes.
Only a coterie of flowers along the wall give the home any hope of life. Everything else in the yard spells poverty and doom.
The white man, Mr Petrus Rory Muggeridge, does not care being described by his former friends as a “black sheep” as he is the only one of his skin in the area. No pan intended!
In the house, the air is heavy. A rickety old table, a floor dotted with cement, form part of the aura of the home. A ramshackle bed, a pile of old blankets and flies hovering all over the place, worsen the house, which has no windows. In the corner an old fridge, gives hint to a past luxurious life and the dust that has gathered there, tells you it has not worked for years.
“Welcome to my homes guys. What brings you here?”
Mr Muggeridge was born to parents of Germany origin. But he is not comfortable giving his age, although one can tell, he is plus or minus 50. His, parents he claims, died when he was nine and he found himself at the Rhodesian Children’s Home now Harare Children’s Home.
“I relocated here in Epworth seven years ago from Hatfield where we were renting. The rentals were too high and we contemplated buying a stand, so I bought this small stand.
“It was a hard decision, but such is life,” he says, holding back tears.
Mr Muggeridge religiously attends the Anglican church in Queensdale, Harare. He stays with his children, Alexandar (24), Annalee (13) and Ken (10).
“My wife Charmaine succumbed to high blood pressure a few years ago, after being arrested for alleged drug dealing. She was not into drugs but there is a lot drug dealing here so she was caught in between.
“She probably failed to accept the arrest. It is a sad story for me. But I accept it as God’s will.’’
He does menial jobs and at time fixes cars along Kaguvi Street in town as he is a self-taught mechanic. He sometimes gets as little as US$5.
“I’m a self-taught mechanic, but not a professional one. I don’t have papers that prove my job, but I can fix cars. This how I earn a living through doing piece jobs.
“Two weeks ago I was involved in a car accident while I was on my way to the CBD, but I want to thank God because the injury was not severe. I’m recuperating well and I hope next week I be back to my job,” said Mr Muggeridge.
To add on to his woes, his daughter committed suicide about two years ago.
“My daughter committed suicide, but I’m no longer aware of the year. It remained an unanswered question to all us because we do not know the reasons led her to take that decision.”
When asked where his siblings are, he answered: “We were born in family of three, myself, my brother who moved to New Zealand and died there after committing suicide. My sister who is in United Kingdom does not communicate with me. I don’t have links with her since we last communicated decades ago.
“My other family members got opportunities to relocate to overseas. Since then we never communicated. I used to communicate with my brother’s wife, but after his death we never shared a chat until now,” he said.
By his own admission, poverty is biting him hard.