In SW Radio Africa’s ongoing expose of the 1999 murder of Lutheran World Federation employee Strover Mutonhori, journalist Lance Guma speaks to Jane Dongo, a niece to the late Mutonhori. She talks about how Mutonhori was ‘set up’ on the night he was kidnapped and how his remains were only found some 5 months later. What sort of evidence implicated current co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi?
Interview broadcast 23 May 2011
Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe and thank you for joining us on Behind the Headlines. As we’ve been saying the last couple of weeks, every Tuesday SW Radio Africa will be looking at some of Zimbabwe’s unsolved and deliberately ignored cases of political violence, torture, murder and other forms of abuse by people in positions of authority.
At the beginning of May we looked at co-Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi who in 1999 was implicated in the murder of Lutheran World Federation employee Strover Mutonhori. Up to this date the case seems to have died a natural death and we here at SW Radio Africa are following up on that; last time we spoke to Ian Mutonhori’s son, that’s Ian Tatenda Mutonhori and this week on Behind the Headlines we are going to speak to a niece of Strover Mutonhori – her name is Jane Dongo. Thank you for joining us.
Jane Dongo: Thank you very much.
Guma: Now obviously it’s not easy talking about matters like this, very hard indeed so we would like to say thank you for taking time out to talk to us. Let’s go back to 1999; how did this matter unfold? If you can start by talking from where the late Mutonhori was working and what you heard at the time.
Dongo: I think very well the masses of Zimbabwe know Mutonhori as working as, he was working as a field officer in Zvishavane that is based at Buchwa Mine at Lutheran World Federation. Mutonhori, I had stayed with him when he was a child. He joined, before Lutheran World Federation, he joined the army, playing tennis. There the army sent him to train at Kushinga Pikelela in agriculture.
From there, I’m just mentioning this because there are some people who worked with Mutonhori in the army, at ARDA and then at Lutheran World Federation, who knew him very well. He was, he didn’t drink, he was somebody who was very sober, very, very sober. He didn’t even smoke, rather he was a bit too quiet maybe because of reading because by the time he was murdered he was doing a degree, married with three children.
He was abducted and murdered as of the 1st of March 1999. I had only seen him two days before and those two days before, that’s the period, we as a family, or we as friends and family of Mutonhori, where if you look at the case, there is this letter which was written by a minister to Mutonhori because he was in Harare at my place. We will pick this letter along the way as we go…
Guma: The one question…
Dongo: What puzzles me is Mutonhori was supposed not to be on that workshop, he was off duty but he was called to say – you have got to attend it, you have got to attend it. Well…
Guma: Which workshop is this? The one at the Omadu Hotel in Kezi?
Dongo: At Omadu in Kezi. The one where he was kidnapped. He wasn’t supposed to be there but well, if a colleague or if your bosses say you have got to attend, well you have got to attend although you are off duty. Fine, he went after being prepared with everything from the wife, money, cell phone, clothing everything he went, we know very well that he didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, he played soccer on that night.
Come 9 ‘o clock, he went to this room where he wasn’t even booked; they were booked two, two, two, two, two according to the story which we were given by Lutheran but somebody, somebody whom we know very well with the name I know, came to Mutonhori and said – oh Mr. Mutonhori since you are reading, can you move to this other room where Mr so-and-so is not turning up tonight because he lives in Bulawayo, he has decided to cancel but rather come to the workshop tomorrow morning, so you can use it, you can use this other room on your own.
Luring my own uncle which means this was a planned thing, this was a planned thing. He moved there into that room but we know very well the bed was found as it was. Mutonhori was kidnapped with one shoe, one sock. The two hundred Zim dollar which was in his purse was there, the cell phone was there, the suitcase, small suitcase with his clothes was there. Only him and one trainer and one sock.
Guma: Can you clarify one thing for us because in all the reports covering this matter its stated that the feeling by the now co Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi was that Mutonhori was having an affair with his wife Tambudzani and people are putting two and two together saying that was the motive for the minister allegedly ordering something be done about Strover Mutonhori.
Dongo: Well that is a case to prove. If those are rumours and those are, well of course somebody can say that but if you are innocent, I always believe if I am accused, I’ll step forward for the courts to prove me wrong. Me, from my own background, some my husband having an affair, my wife having an affair, I think that doesn’t warrant somebody to be murdered.
Guma: That’s true, that’s true.
Dongo: Can it? It cannot.
Guma: OK so he was kidnapped in March, how long did it take before he was found?
Dongo: Oh, nearly six months but it was five months and some weeks because he was, from the 1st of March to the 17th of August.
Guma: And I take it you had to put out rewards and adverts trying to locate him?
Dongo: Ah I can go as long I don’t know, as long as, because from the 1st of March, I think I arrived in Buchwa on the 3rd or the 4th of March, just after two days, just contemplating – maybe, no I can’t believe, he will phone me I know, wherever, whether he was in South Africa, whether he was in Swaziland, whether he was there, I was believing that he was going to phone me.
Nothing came along. From there I went to Buchwa Mine, we were offered a truck by Lutheran and wife and another uncle who was in the army, all these other witnesses they are now late. This is why we are only, only asking whether Mr. Kembo Mohadi or whether the wife, whoever is implicated in this case to come clean. I have gone into mines thinking that well no maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe during those five months nothing was found.
Unfortunately maybe, maybe by sheer luck, sheer luck, it’s a long story when he was found in that Whitewaters Range in Matopos, just bones, sheer bones. Had he not have had a clever wife, me, I think I don’t even know how whether my husband has got so many teeth in the upper jaw which are no longer there, but his wife, Strover, she is a very, very clever. She only identified those bones with one tooth which was missing and a belt which he was wearing on that particular day. All the t-shirt had gone, of course jeans are very hard to go by.
Guma: And from the state of his body were they able to tell what happened to him?
Dongo: But they couldn’t even identify, come up with anything that he was murdered in this or was killed by who or by, you know in Africa we don’t have this, rather the police, the police they only came with that – ah maybe he was, that was maybe the highly positive answer where they said he was, maybe he was strangled.
Guma: OK so talk us through the investigations after that. You, did you immediately have your suspicions as to who was involved or how did Mohadi’s name…
Dongo: All these questions, as I said, why did they remove Strover from a room where he was sharing with another colleague to a room where he was alone? If he was taken by a burglar or a thief, why did this thief leave the money? Why did this thief leave the clothing, the cell phone, everything there and took only Mutonhori? Well, I went to Mapisa. Mapisa I have known this case involving so many, so many police officers; Mr. Sibanda, Detective Inspector Dube, Ngonidzashe Gambiza, Raymond Ngwenya, Cornus Dube, Ndlovu Ngwenya – I can go on and on.
I can even include ministers who have helped in this case but as I am speaking to you right now, I think maybe less that ten people or less than ten or less than five people are now surviving because it’s a long time, 12 years, we are looking at 12 years and nobody, not even one person has been said – oh you, no we have decided that you, we are going to charge you. Does it mean there is no evidence? Well of course, the file is no longer there, what can they do?
Guma: To people listening to this interview they will want to know from you is there a lot of evidence pinning the Home Affairs minister?
Dongo: The evidence was there. The evidence was there. The evidence was there. It was, this case was even asked in parliament, this case was asked in parliament. This is why I said most of the people are only now they are late, even ministers who knew this case, who had evidence. Right now, to me I can say yes, me I’ve got evidence but I handed it over to the police.
So I think since Mr. Mohadi is the co-minister of Home Affairs, well is it not wise for him to prove his innocence? Me of course, I’ve heard that he said– oh I didn’t appoint myself to be a minister. Yes he didn’t appoint himself to be a minister, he was appointed by Mr. Mugabe to be a minister, a minister of Home Affairs. A minister of Home Affairs who looks after such cases like this one, why can’t he prove his innocence?
Why can’t he say – well, me I’m here, I’m still living and I want to prove to the nation that I was implicated, it’s only implicating me but I’m very innocent. Why not? Can somebody say why not? He is in the driving seat, I think it’s wise to just let some of us who are waffling to prove his case that – no I’m, yes you can talk, you can talk but this is the day I am saying please don’t talk about me, please put this case to rest. We know we all die but not to be murdered.
Guma: What about Mohadi’s wife Tambudzani, from all accounts, they worked together with Strover Mutonhori, what has she said about the matter? Does anyone know?
Dongo: Well I think if the police had (inaudible) they can even up to today say – oh they interviewed her, they interviewed Tambudzani but they were workmates as far as I know. This is why I said Mr. Mohadi has got a case to answer to prove himself, even Tambudzani has got a case as well to say – well no Mr. Mutonhori was my work mate or Mr. Mutonhori, we had an affair or what, it’s up to, especially to Tambudzani to prove, to prove that Mutonhori was not, they were not having an affair.
All of us right now, because my uncle is no longer there, we are suffering because of it. We are just saying, to the two people – maybe they are innocent but for them, for us to say they are innocent, they must be proved in the courts. Why not?
Guma: But that forms the basis of, if at all Mohadi was involved, that would have been his main motivation isn’t it?
Dongo: Well because I cannot see why he was going to, he murdered my uncle, why?
Guma: Some reports are suggesting and of course I’m just quoting reports, it’s not my judgement, some reports are suggesting Mohadi himself even knew that his own wife was a woman of, for the want of a better word, someone of loose morals and that’s why he took it out on Mutonhori instead.
Dongo: Ah me, I don’t know, I don’t know whether he was, she is loose or what, I, that I don’t know. But what I know is Tambudzani was a work mate of my uncle, they used to work together. That’s all, that’s all I know about her and right now I know she is a senator and this is why, like myself I am very angry. A senator, somebody who is in the senate, a minister somebody who is in a good position to prove, all of them they are in good positions to prove to the nation that they are not even involved.
Guma: Well what we’ll do is, because of time constraints we’ll probably have to end the interview for this week here but hopefully we can get you next week Monday for part two because there are other issues related to this case that we need to look at like the welfare of Strover Mutonhori’s family and see how people who are willing to help are able to help and that sort of thing.
So for this week we’ll end the interview here, thank you so much for joining us and having the courage to talk about this case. I know it’s not easy but all we can say is thank you for joining us.
Dongo: Thank you very much, me as well, I’m very pleased, it’s only not a matter of taking guns and axes to axe somebody, no, it a case of just conscience where you say – ah no I am not this person whom you are portraying me.
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