Cynthia Manjoro: four-year-old son rejected her when she was eventually released on bail.

Memory Ncube (32), the MDC- T organising secretary for the Youth Assembly in Highfield, has another harrowing tale to tell. Also a regular member of the United Methodist Church at the Highfield parish, the time she spent in jail awaiting trial for a crime she knew nothing about hit her 10-year-old son badly. At the time of the murder she was at a church service.

Memory Ncube: The trauma that this incident brought on my son cannot be measured.
Memory Ncube: The trauma that this incident brought on my son cannot be measured.

“They (the police) never made an attempt to establish my whereabouts before they bundled me into their truck for murder,” she said. “The trauma that this incident brought on my son cannot be measured. The ZRP should bear the costs of rehabilitating all the people that they victimised, violated and traumatised due to gross negligence and a partisan administration of the law,” she said.

Ncube was arrested on a pretext that she was helping the police with their investigations but ended up in filthy cells as a suspect. Her protests were ignored. She believes that it is high time that ordinary people demand accountability from the police for their bias and carelessness. “Had they done their job properly, they would have established that I was at a church service because all the evidence indicating my whereabouts was there,” she said. After the service, she proceeded to watch a soccer match, far away from the crime scene.

She was surprised when the police picked her up two days later. “Initially, they told me that they were just taking me for questioning only to threaten me to confess that I was in Glen View on the day in question. One police officer even claimed to have seen me at the said venue,” she said.

“Since I had attended church and was nowhere near Glen View, I even played back a recording that I made at the church service to confirm my whereabouts, but they did not listen,” she said.

She believes that as professionals, the police should have investigated the case properly before making any arrests. They ended up exhibiting their partisan conduct by simply targeting known MDC- T activists in the Glen View area. Ncube, Manjoro and 27 others became their victims.

The High Court recently released Ncube, Manjoro and 19 others – more than two years after they were arrested. Rebecca Mafukeni died in remand prison, awaiting Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s verdict on the matter.

The remainder have been put to their defence, purely on the grounds that they were seen at the scene of the crime on the day Mutedza met his fate. They are still languishing in remand prison.

All 19 say they were tortured, victimised and subjected to inhuman treatment by investigating officers only keen to extract their confessions to killing Mutedza. The entire case has contravened numerous sections of the Constitution, including section 13: 4(b) of the old Constitution: ‘any arrested or detained person should be tried within reasonable time or should be released either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions including in particular such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial’.

“As an MDC activist, I was labelled and incarcerated in D (maximum security) section, which houses the mentally challenged, violent and those suspected to be up for serious crimes,” she said.

She said one of the inmates was so violent that sometimes she would just start to assault other inmates. “I shared the cell with a woman who was up for the murder of one her relatives. It was alleged that she had killed her relative and eaten her liver and another lady who was a cattle rustler among the mentally challenged,” she said.

She noticed that instead of rehabilitation, Zimbabwe’s correctional services toughens inmates, concentrating on preventing an escape. “We would cut up empty Mazoe (orange drink) containers so that we could use them as toilet bowls at night. When locked up from 4 pm to around 6 am in a prison cell without ablution facilities, one is forced to act like an animal. It dehumanised me,” she said.

Jail time created animosity in her family. “My step-mother never visited me and my father came once in a while. I felt empty and torn,” she said.

Ncube pledged to capitalise on her experience and said she would continue fighting for justice to prevail. “May Inspector Mutedza’s soul rest in peace but it is sad that MDC- T activists are paying the price for a crime that they did not commit because someone somewhere is not doing their job. I pray for justice to prevail,” she said.

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