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Ploy to ban opposition

THE judgement handed down at the Harare High Court on August 5 by Justice Sandra Mungwira comes as no surprise.


Astute Zimbabweans knew before hand that Movement

for Democratic Change (MDC) activists – legislator Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, Nicholas Masera, Kethani Sibanda, Remember Moyo, Army Zulu and Sazini Mpofu arrested for allegedly murdering Bulawayo war veterans leader Cain Nkala, were innocent souls facing political retribution.


Zanu PF pretended Nkala was a victim of MDC violence, hoodwinking the electorate by branding the MDC terrorists as depicted by the “Fighting Terrorism” captions played every Newshour.


In Nkala’s graveside eulogy, President Mugabe poured venom that convicted the MDC and scoffed at the perception that Nkala’s murder was a Zanu PF job. Like other political trials in Zimbabwe the state’s case hinged on fiction.


Many in the opposition perceived the case as a propaganda pretext to ban the MDC. To lend weight to their plot, the state used a variety of tactics, a few of which are outlined below:


When news of the murder broke, state media and police reported that Sibanda was “found” in possession of fake passports and R1,5 million, purportedly to reward his “accomplices”. No such exhibits were presented in court;


Police forced Sibanda’s co-accused to regurgitate what they wanted them to say.


As revealed in court, police also lined up state witnesses to testify against Sibanda, threatening to charge former Mpopoma MDC chairperson Sihle Ndlovu with murder or burn her house if she did not admit she knew Sibanda.


MDC finance officer Thembelani Mnkandla, who was detained and severely assaulted, had cash vouchers valued at $35 000 forcibly taken by police from her office in Bulawayo without a search warrant;


Furthermore, police forced Mnkandla to admit the MDC had arms of war in order to charge the MDC leadership with illegal possession of arms of war. It should be remembered that when arms caches were found in mysterious circumstances on Ascot and Hampton Farms in 1983, Mugabe banned the late Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu and confiscated all its properties;


Resulting from diabolical and brutal torture, Moyo could not stand in court, collapsed several times and passed blood for urine. He submitted in court that police threatened to run a truck over his head unless he admitted murdering Nkala.


Army Zulu, who is mentioned nowhere in the 23 state witnesses’ affidavits, submitted he was handed a “bastinado” treatment by police. “Bastinado” entails beatings below the feet and can damage nerves permanently;


Bryne Bonda, a partisan state witness, insisted he gave his uncle Mpofu new shoes two weeks before the murder, yet shoes exhibited in court were old, had holes in the heels, marks and “amateurish repairs” done on them. Contrary to the state outline that Nkala was strangled with shoe laces, exhibit shoe laces were washed and clean;


Without the assistance of accused persons, Sergeant Jemitias Sibanda and three constables were assigned to guard the immediate area around Nkala’s grave, 24 hours before indications were done by Sibanda. This act alone begged the question who directed police specifically to a shallow grave in a bushy area on the outskirts of Bulawayo.


Under cross examination Sergeant Sibanda denied maggots, flies and stench surrounded the shallow grave.


Surely, with toes sticking out and the lower abdomen closer to the surface, a corpse buried for two days should emit a petrifying smell?


To cap it all, Nkala’s widow Sikumbuzo Mguni was put under close police guard, perhaps to ensure she could not give the independent media a different version of the murder case than that touted by the ZBC and the Herald and Chronicle newspapers.


After Nkala’s murder, Mguni reported seeing men carrying AK-47 rifles. In court, no mention was made of AK-47 rifles. At an identification parade in court which included all accused persons, Mguni could not identify her husband’s abductors.


When bail was granted to accused persons by the Supreme Court, officer-in-charge (Khami Maximum Prison) one Nyamukondiwa and his deputy one JJ Ndlovu refused to free Mpofu and Sibanda. The two were then held on a Ministerial Detention Order granted by the office of then Minister of Home Affairs John Nkomo. Mpofu and Sibanda were in the cells for 29 months and two weeks.


The lesson is that continuously used, the government’s Goebbels’ propaganda style will suffer a time threshold. A lie repeated several times remains a lie.


Nkala’s murder must be investigated and the culprits arrested and convicted.


Swithern Chirowodza,

Harare.

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