By Lance Guma
The new Vice President Kembo Mohadi was implicated in the 1999 murder of Lutheran World Federation employee Strover Mutonhori and has since then used his control of the police (as Home Affairs Minister) to kill off any investigations into the case.
It was reported that Mutonhori worked with Mohadi’s wife Tambudzani and the two allegedly had an affair. Mutonhori disappeared from the Omadu Hotel in Kezi, only for his remains to be found in Mzingwane outside Bulawayo.
Soon after the murder, family members were harassed by suspected state security agents.
In May 2001 a team of police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) travelled to South Africa and interviewed a number of people in connection with the murder.
The matter was transferred from Matabeleland South to the Special Investigating Branch at the Police General Headquarters in Harare. The officer investigating was identified as Chief Superintendent C. R. Gora.
Although police finally interviewed Mohadi, who was then Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, he was later promoted to Home Affairs Minister in 2002.
This effectively put a stop to any chance of a proper investigation, since the police fell under his Ministry.
“I did not appoint myself Minister. The Mutonhori family is free to contact me or my lawyers, instead of communicating with me through the Press,” Mohadi told journalists. Mutonhori’s family have kept up the fight for justice.
In January 2007 they sought the intervention of the Attorney General and the President’s Office to try and open up investigations into the murder case. But it was reported that the docket had disappeared and the evidence tampered with.
Mohadi remains co-Home Affairs Minister and is in charge of the same police force that is supposed to be investigating him. The Mutonhori family say their best chance for justice is either a cabinet reshuffle or a new government.
In March 2010, Jane Dongo, a family member, wrote an open letter to Mohadi saying; “It is now 10 years since my uncle Strover Mutonhori was murdered, but we are still waiting for the Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, to prove that there is rule of law, justice and that he has not covered up his own tracks in this murder case.”
Dongo wrote several letters, one through the Zimbabwean embassy in London, and several directly at Mohadi in Harare – but no reply.
“I call upon Mr. Mohadi to come clean and be proven innocent in the courts so that we can put this case to rest” she said at the time. She even quoted remarks by then Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa who in 1999 said;
“Zimbabwe will not tolerate a situation where people are kidnapped and murdered. The culprit will definitely be brought to book. It has been brought by a colleague in our weekly Cabinet meeting and there will not be any cover up”.
Dongo said that Mohadi, who was then Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, wrote a letter to Mutonhori asking to meet him at the Ambassador Hotel in Harare. Mohadi did not say why he wanted the meeting but offered to take him back home at the end of it.
“It was the last week of February, that is 1999 when Mutonhori had come to Harare when he was off-duty and I remember very well, according to that letter because the letter was written by Kembo Mohadi.
“He cannot deny it, he wrote it in his own handwriting. If it was going to be proved, his handwriting, the authenticity of the handwriting, I’m quite sure and he signed it “KB”; Kembo Mohadi signed that letter,” Dongo said.
Sensing something was wrong Mutonhori is said to have declined to meet the Deputy Minister. It’s suspected that Mohadi was following up on allegations that Mutonhori was having an affair with his wife, Tambudzani.
The two worked together in Mberengwa. Dongo said the family are in possession of a letter written by Tambudzani to Mutonhori, but in the letter she only discusses the degree program the two were doing at the time.
Because Mutonhori declined to meet Mohadi the family believe that a further plot was hatched to set him up for the kidnapping several days later.
Dongo said what puzzles them is that Mutonhori was not supposed to be at work on the day he was kidnapped, “he was off duty but was called and told – you have got to attend it, you have got to attend it.”
Eventually he went to the workshop at the Omadu Hotel in Kezi.
Mutonhori played soccer that night and around 9pm went to his room. Dongo said delegates to the workshop were booked into rooms in pairs but somebody tampered with the arrangement and gave Mutonhori his own room to ensure he was alone.
Mutonhori was told that the person booked in the room with him was no longer coming since they lived in Bulawayo and would come to workshop the following day.
Dongo said Mutonhori’s kidnapping was meticulously planned. She said the bed was never used on the night.
“Mutonhori was kidnapped with one shoe, one sock. The two hundred Zim dollars which was in his purse was there, the cell phone was there, the suitcase with his clothes was there. Only him and one trainer and one sock were missing.”
Mutonhori went missing on the 1st of March and his decomposing body was only found on the 17th August at the Whitewaters Range in Matopos, “just bones, sheer bones,” Dongo said.
Mutonhori’s wife was able to identify his remains by counting the number of teeth he had in the upper jaw. “She only identified those bones with one tooth which was missing and a belt which he was wearing on that particular day.”
When Mohadi was appointed Home Affairs Minister in 2002, investigations into the case were dropped and evidence went missing.
In May 2011, Mutonhori’s son Ian Tatenda Mutonhori (19) said ever since the murder of his father the family has been struggling to make ends meet. Mutonhori left behind a wife and three children, Ian and two girls (22 and 28).
“My mother is unemployed and can’t get work,’ Ian explained.
An added challenge to finding work is that they keep having to move house, because Mohadi allegedly keeps track of where they are staying and they are afraid of being in one place for too long.
“My dad used to earn a good salary working for an NGO, the Lutheran World Federation, but now things have changed and life is hard for us.”
Sadly, the Mutonhori family still wait for justice.