Part 2: Strover Mutonhori’s niece Behind the Headlines

Part 2 of the interview between SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma and Jane Dongo, a niece to the late Strover Mutonhori, the Lutheran World Federation employee murdered in 1999 allegedly on the orders of current Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi. Dongo talks in detail about a letter written by the Minister in which he tried to set up a meeting with Mutonhori. A few days later he disappeared and his remains were found 5 months later.

Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe and thank you for joining us on Behind the Headlines. Last month in May, we spoke to Jane Dongo, a niece to the late Strover Mutonhori, and in SW Radio Africa’s on-going exposé of the 1999 murder of Strover Mutonhori we continue with the interview with Jane. This is the concluding interview; last month was part one and this is part two of that particular interview investigating what really happened. Thank you for joining us once again Jane.

Jane Dongo: Thank you very much.

Guma: Last time we spoke, there was the issue of the letter; I believe it was written by Kembo Mohadi to Strover Mutonhori. Can we pick up on that this particular week and its significance?

Dongo: 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. It was written on our usual writing, not writing pads as such but the writing pads which are lined like a note from a school writing book.

Guma: What was the letter saying?

Dongo: We took that letter after maybe I think after a month or so, we took the letter to the Independent; I’m quite sure that paper is the first paper which publicized the letter and we were in that office, he was contacted, he denied it and they went on to say oh, oh we’ve got a letter.

Well the letter was written to Mutonhori; Mutonhori can we meet at Ambassador Hotel after work because him, him Kembo saying he’s very, very much into business and he’s very occupied but he found that small time to jot a letter to ask Mutonhori if they could meet in Ambassador Hotel and after that meeting he said he was going to return Mutonhori where he was living, where he was living at my place.

That was during the night according to the letter – that we must meet after work which means during the night. But well, Mutonhori did not go, well he said something, he didn’t attend that meeting as asked. So but then his fate was ahead of him.

Guma: Did he state why he wanted to meet Strover Mutonhori? Did Minister Mohadi explain why he wanted to meet him?

Dongo: No these are the questions which everybody asks – why? We don’t know but now, me as a relative of Mutonhori, I find an answer to that question why he wanted, he wanted, I think he wanted him, Mutonhori to disappear in Harare because he had come from Zvishavane where he was, in Harare and maybe this Kezi it should have been Harare.

Guma: So your belief is that what later happened to Mutonhori in Kezi…

Dongo: It should have been done, it should have been done in Harare during that request of that letter. I’m quite sure.

Guma: There’s several things in this whole case which formed part of your evidence. How much of that do you still have because we saw reports suggesting most of this evidence in the police hands had disappeared?

Dongo: It has disappeared because Kembo is there, is head of that ministry. If it was somebody who was heading that ministry or like that other time when I said it was being headed by somebody else when Kembo was at Ministry of Education, being a deputy minister of Education, he was the deputy, we could maybe now say oh well what happened?

But then you cannot accuse a person and then ask for evidence again from him. The letter, the letter was handed over to the police but this story is well publicized and we had very, quite a good number of first hand information and quite a good number of witnesses but then now, oh I’m not sure, I’m not sure because he (Mohadi) has been there for a long time; 12 years is not a joke; in 12 years who knows, 12 years of sweeping a house.

Guma: In terms of the family itself, or rather contact with Tambudzani Mohadi because the way it’s being alleged is that, various press reports have picked up on this, that it’s alleged Strover Mutonhori had an affair with Kembo Mohadi’s wife Tambudzani. The two were very close friends and this is the motive in terms of the way this matter has been reported that perhaps Mohadi’s motive in allegedly ordering a hit on Strover Mutonhori was related to the relationship between the two. Have you been able to make any contact with Mohadi’s wife and get what she thinks of the matter?

Dongo: Oh me, I have ever since thought that it was wise not to ring Kembo Mohadi direct as he asks or not to ring Tambudzani, to say Tambudzani, well can you tell me what went wrong or what? Your relationship to my uncle, was it just being a workmate or it went beyond because right now, we as a family of Strover, we are the losers; they, they are still there. We can’t do that.

Guma: Tambudzani Mohadi is a senator for Beitbridge.

Dongo: Yes, Tambudzani is a senator. She’s a senator but as I said before that both of them being ministers and a senator, they should, they know the law, the law of the land as they claim, they should come clean. We are being accused, please can we come clean?

Guma: Let’s talk about Strover Mutonhori’s family. Last time I spoke to Ian Tatenda Mutonhori, his son and from the interview it was clear all was not well, he was struggling to pay his school fees; the mother, Strover Mutonhori’s wife struggling to make ends meet. Talk us through that.

Dongo: It’s very disheartening especially when I think of it I just feel like crying. Ian was left, he was five years when Strover died and Strover, his first born is Tecla; Tecla she is now 22; and then there is Tracey in between Tecla and Ian there’s Tracey, she’s 20. Strover had his children, those children are very intelligent, very, very intelligent but sometimes life is very unfair.

Tecla she had very good results at Grade Seven: One, One, One, One; at ‘O’ Level she had eight, I’m quite sure she had five ‘A’s, two ‘B’s and something like two ‘C’s. Then she proceeded to do ‘A’ Levels.

I, oh……Tracey and Tecla they were at a boarding school but then I proceeded to pay school fees for Tecla to proceed from Form One up to ‘A’ Levels and then at ‘A’ Levels she didn’t do well because of the, just because of the background, the father, it affected her very well, even every year she writes a message on Father’s Day, Dad if you were here.’

Ah me, I just feel like crying, it’s so disheartening but I’m quite sure even Ian, he is alright, he’s alright on the sense that he is as well very intelligent but Ian we had some problems soon after his Grade Seven he fled to Kwekwe from Bulawayo; to Kwekwe and couldn’t attend school after two months when he was found he said he had gone to look after his father.

And Tracey was, she was as well very intelligent, good ‘O’ Levels as well but then too many boarding schools for myself. I know the mother is quite well, the mother is hard working. What can you do especially when you are not employed? She was a poor housewife, her husband looking after the children. Right now she tries, she tries her best.

Guma: People listening to this interview and who want to help, Jane, how do they do that?

Dongo: Sometimes to beg you tend to say to yourself oh you have failed. Like myself, I just don’t want to beg…….(crying)

Guma: I’m sure no-one will take it as begging. I’m sure every time we do an interview there are well wishers who are not responding necessarily to begging will genuinely be wanting to help. Is there like a platform for that…

Dongo: Maybe, I’ll give you my email, I’ll give you my email number and because Mutonhori’s wife, she’s always getting in touch, she’s always getting in touch and there are some people of course who say no, no. no it’s not begging as you were saying but they just want to help.

We have got somebody as well who is looking after Tracey, the in-between Tecla the first born and Ian; Tracey is the second born, she’s being looked after by somebody; she is being taken care of by another couple who offered to pay her school fees, at college from Form Two. Myself I’m never involved financially with Tracey but with Ian and with Tecla.

Guma: Well it’s certainly heartwarming that you’ve taken the courage to talk to us for this long about this whole issue, from May when we last spoke to you up to now in this concluding interview where we cover this whole issue. We will of course obviously continue digging around and trying to cover the issue as much as possible and hope that one day something will come out of it. This is Jane Dongo joining us on Behind the Headlines, thank you so much for your time.

Dongo: Thank you very much, I’m sorry, in fact I was so depressed as well.

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