THE man at the centre of sensational sodomy allegations against National Healing minister and Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, the favourite candidate to become co-vice-president, Mncedisi Twala, has spoken out on the saga which has sent shockwaves through the political landscape.
Â The sodomy allegations, which the Zimbabwe Independent has been closely following since last week after Twala made an alarming police report against Nkomo, has echoes of the Banana saga which rocked the country in the late 1990s.
Former president Canaan Banana was convicted and jailed for sodomy against the late Jefta Dube, sinking his illustrious political career.Â
President Robert Mugabe, who has described homosexuals as “worse than pigs and dogs”, did not attend Banana’s funeral. Banana was not buried at Heroes Acre, where most liberation-struggle nationalist leaders are interred, after the Zanu PF politburo refused to declare him a national hero.
The Nkomo saga deepened yesterday when police intensified their investigations by visiting the complainant’s home to interrogate him. Police yesterday reportedly also seized Twala’s uncle, Bekezela Khumalo, whom they had been hunting down the whole week.
Twala’s mother, Lister Ncube, in an interview said she was worried about the safety of her son.
Nkomo, who has denied the allegations, has reportedly engaged attorneys Chris John Dube of Dube, Banda & Nzarayapenga, while Twala’s lawyer is Mkhululi Nyathi of Mabhikwa, Hikwa & Nyathi.
Twala (30) narrated his alleged rape to the Independent on Wednesday and yesterday saying he was traumatised and now feared for his life after being arrested and harassed by the police.
He said he was now living in fear because he had been harassed and treated like a criminal when he was a “victim” of rape.
Twala, who lives with his mother in Lobengula West in Bulawayo,Â said instead of investigating his report, police in fact initially tried
to charge him with armed robbery before dropping the claims which could not stick. He said police were now trying to charge him with making a false report, but he was standing by his sodomy allegations.
Twala, who is a photographer, said what was now happening has proved his worst fears because his initial report to police after the alleged sexual assault in April 2002 was not recorded by the law enforcement agents. After failing to get police protection and an investigation into the matter in 2002, Twala said he escaped to South Africa.
He said he only permanently returned home on July 4, although in between he occasionally visited his mother when she fell ill.
Twala said minutes after his release on Wednesday that although he was temporarily free, he now feared for his life but was “prepared to tackle anyone head on if push comes to shove”.
“I now fear for my life as I was constantly told that I could disappear or even be killed because I’m accusing a senior Zanu PF official,” Twala said.
Twala said he was psychologically affected by his “unlawful detention” by police since last week. He was released on Wednesday by a Bulawayo area prosecutor, Simon Nleya, without charge. He was threatened with a counter charge of armed robbery.
“When I was in police detention on Friday night, some anonymous people came to my cell accusing me of making a false report on a senior Zanu PF person and asking me if I knew I could disappear for it. At that point I did not fear anything because I was already in detention but now after my release, I’m scared for my life,” said Twala.
Nkomo has denied the allegations.
Asked whether his claims are not politically motivated, Twala laughed, saying he had nothing to benefit from meddling in party politics because he was not a member of any political party.
“I can tell you 100% this is not political. All that I want is justice. Why are the police now hesitant to bring me to court to prove that I did not make a false report as they want to claim? If they think I’m lying, let them take me to court and I will prove I’m not lying,” he said.
Twala said the alleged rape happened in April 2002 after meeting Nkomo as Bulawayo’s Centenary Park where he used to spend time taking photographs. He said the alleged rape took place at a hotel after Nkomo had invited him there. Twala said he has had serious difficulties in reporting the case to the police.
After the failed previous attempts, Twala finally made a report at Rose Camp police station in Bulawayo last Thursday.
However, he was arrested on Friday at his home and was detained at Luveve police station. He was moved to Western Commonage police station in Mpopoma on Saturday afternoon.
He remained there until his release on Wednesday. Jefta Dube and other victims of sodomy had repeatedly reported the case to top government officials, but were rebuffed until the police murder case in the courts led to the investigation of the allegations.
Twala said he felt harassed by the police after making his report last week. Barely 24 hours after his release on Wednesday, police yesterday morning went to Twala’s house inÂ Lobengula West to ask him further questions relating to when he had applied for a passport and whether he could positivelyÂ identify the police officer to whom he first attempted to file the sodomy report in 2002.
Twala said he initially made the report at Bulawayo central police station when Nkomo was Minister of Home Affairs before leaving the country and returning to pursue the matter.