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HARARE – The search for the bodies of a Chinese man and his wife missing since 2020 ended with a grim discovery at a dam in Eastview, Harare, on Thursday as police divers pulled out two bodies stuffed in two drums.
Lei Ding, 35, and his wife Chi Lifen, 30, vanished on Valentine’s Day after visiting a friend in Highlands, Harare.
Their disappearance sparked a major police investigation following the discovery of their vehicle, a white Mercedes Benz ML, dumped along Acturus Road, with the keys in the ignition.
The recovery of Ding’s mobile phone blew the investigation wide open as Zimbabwean investigators, with the help of Chinese authorities, were able to piece together the couple’s final hours.
Messages on the phone showed that Ding, who was in the quarry and river sand business, and his wife, had been invited for a visit by their friend, Xu Lin Lin, on February 14, 2020 – the last time they were seen.
Chinese police tracked down Xu Lin Lin and his friend, Luo Yengshen, who had left Zimbabwe. They in turn implicated Chen Long, another Chinese national residing in Avondale, Harare.
Long was arrested in May and charged with kidnapping and murder, but he frustrated the investigation by refusing to disclose where the couple’s bodies were buried – until this week.
Murdered … Lei Ding and Chi Lifen were reported missing on February 14, 2020, after visiting a friend Xu Lin Lin – now one of three people charged with their murder
Retrieved … A police diver brings to the surface one of the two drums containing the bodies of Lei Ding and his wife Chi Lifen at Eastview dam on September 28, 2023
The police Sub-Aqua Unit sent divers to the Eastview dam where two blue plastic drums containing the remains of the couple were pulled out.
Lin Lin and Yengshen are expected to be extradited from China to face kidnapping and murder charges in Zimbabwe.
China sent detectives to work with their Zimbabwean counterparts. At one time a reward of US$1 million was offered for the safe return of the couple.