(Pic: Last Maengahama and Clr Tungamirai Madzokere)
By Wisdom Mumera
After a painful 10 years in prison former Councilor Tungamirai Madzokere was this week released together with Last Maengahama.
The two were arrested in 2011 and erroneously convicted by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu over the murder, by unknown revellers, of a police inspector Petros Mutedza on May 29.
The judge conceded that none of the three, including Yvonne Musarurwa, “delivered the fatal blow.”
However, he still ruled that “being part of the leadership and organisers of an unsanctioned MDC-T T-Shirt Visibility Day”, the three were, “jointly fully responsible for seeing to it that people and property were not harmed during the course of the unsanctioned demonstration.”
The former Councilor got relief on Friday after the Supreme Court ruled that Justice Bhunu misapplied the appropriate law dealing with common purpose offences.
The other victim of wrongful conviction, Musarurwa, was released in 2018 under a Presidential Amnesty program and is now MDC-T legislator.
Last Maengahama, Yvonne Musarurwa and Tungamirai Madzokere.
Years in Jail and Police Brutality
However, it was to be more years before the other two politicians were to get their freedom.
At the time of his arrest, Madzokere was the Councilor for Ward 32 in Glen View.
When he was arrested, he had only been married to his wife for six months and she was pregnant.
She gave birth whilst he was incarcerated.
Whilst in police custody, Madzokere was subjected to physical attacks by the police and came to court badly beaten and swollen, hardly able to walk.
Lead defense lawyer Charles Kwaramba said the attacks on Madzokere and his partners amounted to torture.
Police were said to have used batons, boots, fists, rifle butts and open hands in attacking them.
They were also reportedly starved and their access to lawyers was restricted.
At one time the then leader of the opposition Morgan Tsvangirai visited Chikurubi Maximum Prison to see them but was denied access.
According to one report at the time, one other victim Last Maengahama was, “singled out for the worst treatment.
“He was taken to the dilapidated Matapi police station in Mbare… after severely assaulting him in relays the cynical cops then let him loose in a cell in which they brought members of the brutal Chipangano gang disguised as fellow prisoners.”
“The mobsters were given a free rein to attack him all night, with no policeman coming to his rescue.”
The Councillor’s family also suffered as he was the breadwinner.
Then Glen View South MP Paul Madzore said, “Councilor Madzokere is the breadwinner.
“His family is suffering and going without basics. There’s a lot of suffering.”
The community which Madzokere led also suffered.
The Councilor was a signatory to a trust account in which constituency development funds were deposited.
Projects to upgrade schools and clinics in the area resultantly went into hibernation with his arrest.
In an almost mirror situation to now after the recalling of Councilors, his Ward became an orphan.
As a Councilor, Madzokere spearheaded the drive to have the statue of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo erected at Africa Unity Square.
At the time all MDC-T Councilors endorsed the suggestion while no contribution on the subject came from their ZANU PF counterparts in Council.
However, the project which had no support from ZANU PF government was never realised.
Madzokere was an active Councilor in Glen View constantly holding Ward meetings with residents which made him to get elected to the office twice.
As Madzokere is returning to society he comes with a new qualification.
Whilst incarcerated he studied for a Diploma in Public Relations and passed.
His wife saved money and paid for his studies.
When Musarurwa was released in 2018, she vowed that she would never forgive ZANU PF for having her incarcerated for a crime she knew nothing about; the same is likely for Madzokere.
He is returning when 164 opposition Councilors have been recalled under dubious circumstances and the opposition is itself under siege.
Nothing much has changed on the judicial front from the time Justice Bhunu gave a strange ruling which earned him the moniker of being a ZANU PF Commissar, to today when former Chief Justice Malaba is clinging to his post against legal logic.
The dawn Madzokere may have spied when he was arrested, with the opposition straddling the urban centres, has grown darker as he returns to find his counterparts scrambling for a political foothold.
After such a torturous episode it’s either Madzokere returns sharpened against his enemies or weathered to restore his life in peace, away from the hazards of a callous politics.