Nkala accused dies of prison-induced ailment


Itai Dzamara

NICHOLAS Masera, one of six Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials who were acquitted after being detained in prison for two and a half years over the murder of Zanu

PF’s Cain Nkala, died last week.


Masera, who had developed chest complications whilst in detention, died last Thursday and was buried on Sunday in Bulawayo. He had been in and out of hospital since release from remand prison in August when Justice Sandra Mungwira acquitted the accused MDC officials.


Josephat Tshuma of Webb Low & Barry who represented the accused MDC officials in the murder case confirmed the death of Masera.


“He died last week. He never recovered from the illness that started troubling him whilst in remand prison.”


Mungwira acquitted Masera and five others, who included MDC MP for Lobengula/Magwegwe Fletcher Dulini Ncube, in August. The other accused were Sazini Mpofu, Army Zulu, Kethani Sibanda and Remember Moyo.


The MDC officials were arrested in November 2001 after the discovery of Nkala’s body in a shallow grave outside Bulawayo. They were denied bail on several occasions and in some instances were held in solitary confinement at Khami Prison, leading to the deterioration in Ncube’s health. He had to undergo surgery to have one eye removed.


Nkala, who was the Bulawayo war veterans chairman, suffered a gruesome murder after unknown people kidnapped him from his Bulawayo home.


The ruling Zanu PF immediately embarked on a blitz to blame the murder on the MDC ahead of the 2002 presidential election. An anti-MDC propaganda campaign, dubbed “war against terror”, was launched.


Sensationalised reports in the state media implicated Ncube and the other MDC members in the murder of Nkala, who was declared a national hero.


A ZTV news crew covered the “discovery” of Nkala’s body in a shallow grave outside Bulawayo and its exhumation. The footage was repeatedly replayed.


However, Justice Mungwira dismissed the allegations saying the witnesses, mainly police officers, lined up by the state were producing works of fiction.


“The witnesses conducted themselves in a shameless fashion and displayed utter contempt for the due administration of justice,” she said.