CHINHOYI: The sudden death on Easter Monday of a senior Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative has sparked weird conspiracy theories among Chinhoyi residents on the cause of his demise, with some alleging witchcraft.

The deceased, Martin Cyprian Nyashanu (64), who was the deputy head of the Government Telecommunications Agency (GTA) under the Presidential Communications section, collapsed and died shortly after reportedly killing a very big snake at his Mzari suburb home.

As news of the well-known Nyashanu’s passing filtered through, debate among the general public raged, with those who believe in superstition suggesting his death could have been the work of black magic.

This was, however, dispelled by government officials and relatives, who confirmed the late war veteran had been unwell lately.

Mary Mliswa, in a graveside speech read on her behalf said Nyashanu died on April 22 on his way to hospital after complaining of severe acid reflux attacks.

Nyashanu, whose nom-de-guerre was Bruce Vatema Kudzanai, was declared a provincial hero and buried at the local shrine on Wednesday.

Nyashanu joined the CIO on July 1, 1981 as a security aide and rose through the ranks to become a senior operative.

From 1990 to 1994, he served as a protocol and communications officer based in Washington, the United States.

Upon his return, he was promoted to chief communications officer before his elevation to deputy head of the GTA Chinhoyi station in April last year.

He left behind wife Merjury (59), sons Tafadzwa (35) and Takudzwa (30) as well as daughter Tsungai (34).