By Lance Guma
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He might be well known for being the butt of many jokes that mock his broken English and sometimes clownish behaviour but the newly-elected Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) has left a trail of violence, rape and murder that exposes him to be nothing but a deadly clown.
The former security guard with the Harare City Council, rose to infamy in 2000 when he declared himself ‘commander in chief’ of farm invasions alongside Chenjerai Hunzvi.
From guarding beer halls and other municipal facilities he suddenly became the ‘poster boy’ for the violent land invasions and appeared several times on state television leading violent mobs of war vets and ZANU PF militants onto farms.
Chinotimba also led the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and was the National Vice-Chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association. But it is Chinotimba’s activities in Buhera South that have left a permanent scar on some of his victims.
During the parliamentary elections of 2005, Chinotimba ran for the Highfield seat and lost. When ZANU PF selected Chinotimba to be their parliamentary candidate for the Buhera South seat in the March 2008 harmonized election, an even more violent side to his character was to emerge.
Although MDC-T candidate Naison Nemadziva eventually won the seat in 2008, it was not before Chinotimba had unleashed a variety of terror tactics, that included mob violence, group rape and even murder.
According to eyewitness testimonies, on the 5th May 2008 Chinotimba, in the company of his cousin, raped an MDC-T member in Buhera. He threatened Idah Munyukwi with a gun before raping her twice.
Chinotimba also encouraged his violent mob to use rape as a tool. Under his instruction a group of about 21 ZANU PF thugs gang raped Memory Mufambi, an MDC-T supporter in Ward 18 of Buhera.
Girl Child Network founder Betty Makoni dealt with the case, having provided shelter for Mufambi in Botswana. She described in detail how Chinotimba’s mob raped the woman.
She said they went to Mufambi’s home looking for her husband who was a prominent MDC-T activist and when they could not find him they started beating up his wife (Mufambi) until she collapsed.
Makoni said the mob of ZANU PF youth militia and war vets then took Mufambi to their torture base where after initially putting a gun to her head they took turns to rape her over the course of a week.
Mufambi says she lost count of how many men raped her but it was so violent she suffered severe internal injuries. She was only released after one of the men involved became ashamed at the extreme violence and pleaded for her to be released. Mufambi is still in and out of hospital suffering the long term effects of what happened to her.
In Botswana Makoni and her group had provided counselling for the Mufambi family as the woman’s ordeal continued with the fact that her husband wanted to divorce her because of the rape.
Makoni said that the Mufambi case is one of 200 cases documented by a team of international lawyers and taken to the African Commission on Human and People Rights. The same dossier is reported to have been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible prosecution.
Meanwhile in the Ward 27 area of Chapanduka and also in 2008, Chinotimba led a group of ZANU PF thugs who beat to death an MDC-T activist known as Sibamba.
In another incident on the 18th May 2008, Chinotimba’s truck was used in the attack on Choukuse Nyoka Mubango in Ward 26. Mubango was axed to death in full view of his wife and five children.
In June 2008, undercover BBC reporter Ian Pannell described a face-to-face encounter with Chinotimba, saying:
“His car blocked ours. He got out with three other men, striding towards us, wearing a T-shirt with two Kalashnikovs and Robert Mugabe’s face printed on it. His eyes were unflinching, a large, brooding man, full of hatred, smelling of alcohol and full of threats.”
Chinotimba is said to have leaned into the car, demanding to know what the journalists were doing in the area.
“It was only fast and fluid talking by two South African colleagues we were travelling with that persuaded him to leave us alone. I will never quite believe that he really bought what felt like a terribly flimsy cover story about travelling to see friends, but he did eventually let us pass,” Pannel wrote.
Chinotimba, with the help of his violent mob, took control of the area behaving like a mafia boss. They rampaged through Buhera, targeting numerous rural peasants like Admore Chibutu, Petros Murinda, Tongeyi Jeremiah, and Mangwanani Zvichapera. They burned down their homes, beat them up, killed and stole their livestock.
Chinotimba ‘allocated’ himself a plot of land in the western suburb of Mabelreign along Clevering Road and built himself a house.
The land was always traditionally held for the construction of churches. In 2007 during ‘Operation Murambatsvina’, construction of the house was delayed but the structure was spared and is now his official residence.
Like most senior Zanu PF officials he has never been arrested or charged over the allegations of violence, rape and murder committed in Buhera South. In fact, in the crazy scheme of Zimbabwean politics, Chinotimba is now the ‘Honourable Member of Parliament’ for the same area.
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