“THE day when this alleged crime was committed I was actually at the United Family International Church and only learnt of the death of Inspector Petros Mutedza from third parties. I never imagined myself being linked to the matter,” said 32-year-old Last Maengahama, one of the MDC activists facing charges of murdering the cop.
BY WELLINGTON ZIMBOWA
Inspector Mutedza was murdered in May 2011, allegedly by MDC-T activists, prompting the arrest of 29 party supporters.
Twenty-one of them were acquitted last year while one died in remand prison.
A founding member of the MDC-T, Maengahama and two other activists were granted bail by the High Court last week and emerged from the dungeons of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where they had been languishing for nearly three years.
Speaking to The Standard last week, Maengahama said on the day that he is accused of murdering the cop, he had spent the entire day at church at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) and only arrived home in the evening.
“When I came back the incident had already happened and I noticed that something was amiss as the shops, which are about 100 metres away from my house had been closed,” said Maengahama.
The father of four said he got the shock of his life when armed riot police stormed his residence arresting him and all other men who were found at the house during the raid, including his two younger brothers.
A staunch Christian, Maengahama has absolute confidence that the hand of God is in control.
“I believe it is through God’s grace that after numerous freedom bids, I have finally been granted bail and I believe God will save me from this predicament,” he said.
At Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, Maengahama said, he lived with hard-core criminals and the experience gave him the resolve to fight for a better Zimbabwe.
He said water was a luxury owing to scant supplies at the institution. “Drinking water was difficult to get and one could hardly get bathing water,” he said. As a result, prisoners went without bathing for very long periods, sometimes several weeks. Because of the water shortage, prison garb was also seldom washed and the lice thrived in such dirt, he said.
Shut away from the world, Maengahama says they only got bits of news from visiting relatives or from inmates going for routine court sessions.
Newspapers brought from outside were censored with “unfit” stories being cut out, he said.
Maengahama said they were given two meals per day comprising sadza with spinach. That was the main diet for prisoners unless one was lucky to have relatives who brought food from outside.
Due to overcrowding and poor access to health care, diseases among inmates were common with critically ill inmates having to rely on mere painkillers, he said.
He said very few critically ill inmates were ferried to Parirenyatwa Hospital for medical attention.
So bad was the situation that inmates without family support would gratefully accept donations of second-hand undergarments and toothbrushes from the lucky ones that got visitors, Maengahama said.
He said his situation was a little better compared to other inmates because of the undying love and support he got from his wife, Georgina, and his relatives.
“My wife would visit me countless times bringing me food hampers, toiletries and news from home and would offer me moral support,” he said.
On the on-going leadership renewal debate, Maengahama said if the people, through the congress, decided it was time for MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to step aside, then that view would have to be respected. He however emphasised that the debate should be guided by the popular will of the grassroots.
The Glen view-based activist, who claims there have been several attempts on his life, blamed the party leadership for the 2013 defeat.
He said MDC-T should have devised an anti-rigging strategy to counter Zanu PF’s well-oiled rigging machinery.