Zanu (PF) terror granny dies

Acquillina Katsande, a Zanu (PF) legislator and grandmother accused of terrorising opposition supporters, died on Saturday from kidney and heart problems.

Acquillina Katsande
Acquillina Katsande

She had been ill for some time. Her son, George, confirmed her death at the West End Clinic in Harare. Katsande, who leaves five children and 12 grandchildren, was the Mudzi West MP since 2005 and secretary for administration for Mashonaland East province. She subsequently became provincial chair but was removed last year for alleged links to former vice president Joice Mujuru.

President Robert Mugabe accused Mujuru of plotting to topple him using illegal means and removed her at the Zanu (PF) national congress last year.

Katsande earned notoriety for terrorising members of the MDC and is reported to have personally supervised the torture of her political foes, some of who are said to have died as a result of the persecution.

This was particularly during the 2008 presidential runoff that was marred by widespread violence, which forced MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out leaving President Robert Mugabe as the sole candidate. Tsvangirai had won the first round of the election, a result that set off massive violence that resulted in several hundreds of deaths.

Mudzi became one of the most notorious areas where political violence occurred. Eye witnesses accused Katsande of having teamed u with her son, George, one Bramwell Katsvairo, an alleged killer, and Peter Nyakuba, a local councillor. She is alleged to have ordered the killing of several opposition supporters. “If any of the MDC supporters foolishly resist, kill them all. We have been granted authority by the president to kill MDC supporters,” she is quoted as having said.

Eye witness accounts collected by NGOs after the election, say that on June 1 2008, 26 days before the date of the run-off, Katsande provided a vehicle to her son and Tawanda Mazunze, who abducted Finada Katiyo – whom they accused of voting for Tsvangirai in the first round.

He was taken to a torture base, severely assaulted and died a week later. Katsande is also said to have supplied George with a gun that he allegedly used to kill another opposition member. She later used the killing of her victims to threaten other perceived enemies.

On June 6 2008, an MDC ward official identified as DK was abducted using her truck and taken to a torture camp and assaulted. He died a day after the runoff poll. Katsande is said to have participated in several other tortures that resulted in deaths and kept a hit list. The surviving relatives and victims reported these atrocities to the police, but no action was ever taken against her.

Post published in: Human Rights

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