Maingehama family struggle continues

Georgina is the wife of Last Maingehama, one of the three MDC-T murder suspects still in remand prison after a High Court judge denied them bail over the death more than two years ago of police inspector Petros Mutedza.

Georgina Maingehama: my children are suffering.
Georgina Maingehama: my children are suffering.

Mutedza died in Glen View, Harare, following a skirmish with residents at a shopping centre. The police arrested Maengahama and 28 other MDC-T activists and charged them with murder.

When Justice Chinembiri Bhunu released 21 of the group for lack of evidence last week, he refused to allow Maingehama, Yvonne Musarurwa and Tungamirai Madzokere their freedom, saying these three, together with four others who are out on bail, have to defend themselves.

Bhunu also said he was not ready to make a ruling in the case of the late Rebecca Mafukeni, one of the accused who died while in remand prison awaiting trial.

For Georgina, the Court’s ruling means that the struggle for justice continues. A devout Christian and a leader in her Zimbabwe Assemblies of God church, she sees her husband’s fate as a “black phase” that shall come to pass.

She told The Zimbabwean that life had been very difficult for the family, especially their four children. “All sorts of tags have been placed on him, me and our children. My husband’s relatives blame our family for this incident,” she said.

Last was arrested on May 29, 2011 at his home in Glen View, together with his brothers Stanley, Lazarus and Edison.

“I remember on the very first day that Last and his brothers were arrested, I could feel that the incident had grown into a family feud because my husbands’ relatives indicated that they had warned him against his active involvement in politics right from the beginning,” said Georgina.

But she remains undaunted, considering the experience as a test of character. “Women whose husbands are in remand prison suffer the most because relatives practically relegate everything to you,” she said. “It is just like in times of sickness, when everyone walks away and you are left to take care of your husband single-handedly. Last is paying the price for being a national member in the MDC and as his family, we have been dragged along.”

A director of Latview Communications, a family business, Georgina commutes daily to the remand prison, often three times, to feed her husband as the government no longer takes responsibility for the meals of awaiting trial inmates.

“I walk close to five kilometers daily to the prison complex. I have adjusted (my workload) to juggle between prison visits, business and work, and attending to my family,” she said. “I am grateful for my husband’s touch. He groomed me to be who I am and without what he taught me, I do not know where I would be now.”

She recalled her husband’s ‘tough stance’ on her when he suspended her from work for insubordination. This happened before his arrest.

“I did not attend a board meeting because I had visitors at home. I expected that my husband, as the Managing Director, would excuse me because he knew of the function that was set to take place at home,” she said.

“(But) he wrote to me a letter of suspension which was delivered to me at home by the company secretary. I tore it up, only to be reminded that my suspension was effective and I would not be exonerated because I was the MD’s wife.”

After his arrest, she decided to stay in business. “I feel his absence, but I have realised that for the sake of the children and the rest of the family, I have to put a courageous front,” she added.

The most trying time of this sad chapter in her life was when her children got wind of the allegations levelled against their father. “My eldest daughter who is now in Grade Six found out that other children at school knew about her father. She threw tantrums, because she had kept this issue as her closely guarded secret.

“When I picked her up from school on that particular day, she looked torn. Even the twins were devastated,” she said. One of the twins appeared to be confused by the turn of events. “He asked me who had power: Satan or God. I told him that God was supreme. He further asked me why God was letting Satan have his way when in fact he was supreme,” she said.

When Last was arrested, the twins were two years old. “When we visited him one weekend and he came out in leg irons, the children were traumatised by seeing their father in that condition,” she said.

The MDC-T supports families of arrested inmates. “I am just grateful for what the party is doing. It is my daily prayer that justice prevails in this issue because my husband is being punished for a crime that he did not commit,” she said.

In his judgement, Bhunu rapped the police for what he called the force’s unprofessional conduct which led to arrests before getting sufficient evidence of the crime.

Post published in: News
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