Now Grace, before we start I just wanted to play for you and also for our
listeners an interview that I did with Kembo Mohadi, Monday evening. I asked him
to comment about the attacks that are taking place in Zimbabwe right now and
this is what happened.
Hello, Minister Mohadi?
Hello Minister, my name is Violet; Iím calling from SW Radio
From SW Radio Africa
Mohadi: What can I do for you
Minster I wanted to find out from you or to get a comment from you
about the allegations from the MDC that a lot of their activists are getting
arrested and tortured in custody. And, as the Home Affairs Minister, I wanted to
find out or to get your comment on this.
Mohadi: No we donít arrest anybody and torture people here in Zimbabwe
. We arrest criminals and even if they are terrorist criminals we donít torture
them. The law takes its own course, if someone has got a case to answer he goes
to Court and he is convicted. Those allegations are false.
But Minister Mohadi these MDC leaders and activists have actually
appeared in Court covered in blood. So how can you explain this?
Mohadi: Ah no, when was that?
How can you explain this?
Mohadi: When was that? When was that? When did they appear in Court
covered in blood? That is a wrong statement. When was it?
Mohadi: did you see them covered in blood?
Mohadi: Did you see them covered in
MorganTsvangirai appeared on
Mohadi: Ah no
was seen on TV
Mohadi: He was not even covered in blood. Thatís a lie. You come to
Zimbabwe and witness this for yourself and donít be talking about things that
you donít know. And we donít ban people from coming to Zimbabwe . Why do you
have to listen to CNN and Sky News and BBC? Come to Zimbabwe and see for
yourself and report correctly.
But Minister Mohadi you know thatÖ.
Sound of the phone line
Hello? Hello? And we lost connection with the Home Affairs Minister Kembo
Mohadi, but I called him back and this is what
Minister we must have got cut off?
Mohadi: Yes, I said come to Zimbabwe and report correctly man! We are
bombed by the MDC, they are involved in terrorist activities and you donít
report about that! Weíve got a lot of them in custody, weíve got a lot of them
that are going on trial and have been remanded by our Courts. And they are
possessing arms of war and you donít report about that. I say come to Zimbabwe
and see for yourself man! We donít ban you from coming. You come to Zimbabwe you
can see it for yourself other than to report from hearsay. I donít want to be
talking to people that get these things from hearsay.
But thatís why Iím talking to you direct so that we can hear it from you
Mohadi: No, no, no, you are talking to me directly over the phone. Come
to Zimbabwe and report correctly!
But you know that SW Radio Africa is banned in Zimbabwe
Mohadi: What ban? You come to me, Iím the Minister of Home Affairs and
say you want to come and report then you, you you will cover the story that you
want, other than talking. I donít want to be talking to you about rumours
please; please can you please leave it alone
But thatís why Iím talking to you
Mohadi: No, no, no, can you please leave me alone. Thereís nothing like
that. Iíve told you that everything is false so what else do you
You have said that journalists can come to Zimbabwe , but how many journalists
have been arrested?
Mohadi: Yeah why donít you come to Zimbabwe if you, you know who has
Wasnít there a journalist Gift Phiri, an independent journalist who was
arrested last week?
Who is that? Who has been arrested?
Gift Phiri is a journalist thatís actually at the Avenues Clinic right
Mohadi: Ya but you come to Zimbabwe
Receiving treatment after he was brutalised by the
Mohadi: No youíve got to, if you come to Zimbabwe youíve got to
register, youíve got to report that you are a journalist, you are accredited.
Donít just come and report when you are not accredited. Whether you are a
freelance or what you get accredited man. We are a sovereign country here. You
canít just come and do things as if you are on a
are you sayingÖ?
ter Kembo Mohadi: We must know what; we must know that you are
in Zimbabwe and that you are reporting for that and that
Minister Mohadi: there are several journalists whoÖ
Mohadi: Rumour spreader, why do you, why, why
There are several journalists who have been
Mohadi: Now there is no journalist that is in jail here in Zimbabwe,
can you come tomorrow, fly tomorrow and then phone me, phone me on Wednesday
because tomorrow Iím in Cabinet and fly in and come and identify a journalist
that is in prison here or that isÖ
Gift Phiri is one journalist
Mohadi: Ya you come and show me. There is no one of that sort, that
was released just a few days ago
Mohadi: No, no, thatís not true, thatís not true, thatís not true.
Thatís not true.
what is the truth?
Mohadi: No, there is nothing. Iím saying thatís all false, we
What about Edward Chikomba the ZBC cameraman who was murdered last
Mohadi: He was murdered by who? Was he murdered by the
But is your government investigating to find out
Mohadi: Was he murdered by the police?
He was abducted in the same way that several opposition activists have been
Mohadi : Was heÖ Abducted by who? By who?
members of the state security agency
Mohadi: Abducted by who? Who? Oh no, can you tell me that? Can you come
is your government going to investigate to findÖ
Mohadi: No come and look, ah please can you, if you donít want to talk
to me stop giving me false accusations, ah please OK?
Minister do you understand thatÖ
Mohadi: No, no, no I donít want to talk to you
Minister do you understand that Zimbabweans are frustrated with their
daily struggles right now?
Mohadi: Hey! Hey Hey Hey! Shut up!
Sound of the phone line
But as a Minister, how can you even say that?
Sound of the phone line
going dead again
And the Minister hung up again for the second time and when I tried to call him
for the third time he would not pick up his phone. Now Grace, can you comment on
I think itís such a tragedy for our country to have politicians of such
a calibre. Politicians who do not think they have to be made accountable for
their actions. Politicians who take journalists or the media for granted, who
take the listeners of SW Radio Africa for granted. I think itís really sad but
that is part of the whole problem we have in Zimbabwe now, of a ZANU PF
leadership that does not think that it has to account to anybody; its own
people, the region, or the broader international community. So everything they
do is with impunity.
Right, now before we go to your experience or what happened to you,
Minister Kembo Mohadi said that there are no journalists that are currently in
detention and I gave him an example of Gift Phiri who was detained last week and
he was tortured and he actually received treatment in a hospital in Harare . And
then, is it not a fact that there is another journalist, Luke Tamborinyoka who
is now the MDCís Media and Information Officer who is currently in detention
Yes, apart from Luke I can tell you that when we were arrested on the
11 th March we had two journalists with us. We had you know the photo journalist
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and another Reuters journalist who were tortured for the
specific reason that they were journalists. There was nothing else, their
torturers identified them as journalists who were taking pictures, who were
reporting, and tortured them for that. So the brutal assaults on them, which I
saw, which I witnessed, are something that you know I think itís laughable for
the Home Affairs Minister to deny that exists. We know journalists are being
hunted, haunted in Zimbabwe . We know that they are being tortured and we know
that they are being killed.
And then also coming to Opposition officials and activists who are
being arrested and tortured right now. Now you are one of them, one of the
Opposition officials that was arrested just recently. Can you tell us what
happened to you after you were arrested because the Minister denies that
Opposition officials and activists were tortured in custody?
We were tortured at Machipisa police station in the fence outside the
cells for about four hours by different members of the State Agents. There were
CIOís, there were officials from the Army, there were Riot Police and War
Veterans. They all took turns to do whatever they could do to us, from beating
us up with baton sticks to punches, to being danced on. Mrs Sekai Holland for
instance had one official, a woman War Veteran, dance on her and call her
Ďwhoreí and all sorts of things. So it cannot be denied that we went through
such a horrific experience in the hands of State Agents at Highfields Police
Station. And, after that, I was also tortured in the cells and there are
witnesses to this in full view of police officials by army officials. That was
on the morning of the 12 th of March. And, the Officer who was in charge there
at Braeside Police Station, his name is Makore. So again, thatís something real
that happened and there are witnesses. And, apart from the witnesses, we have
wounds, visible wounds that we are being treated for.
Thatís what I wanted to find out from you
Kwinjeh: Sekai Holland broke three ribs, broke an arm, broke a leg. I
have internal head injuries, I have soft tissue injuries. And you know you saw
Dr Lovemore Madhuku, you saw President Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa we know
what happened to him, even after the 11 th March, what happened to him at Harare
in your case, what sort of treatment are you receiving? I understand you are in
the same hospital with 64 year old Amai Holland, what treatment is she also
receiving if you know?
Well, a lot of treatment that includes a lot of therapy because what we
went through this is really a nightmare and part of what we are receiving is
therapy, de-briefing for us to get Ė to deal with the trauma. And, we are also
receiving specialised treatment. For instance, for me itís the internal head
injuries. In Zimbabwe you know they could only scan that I had a swollen brain
but did not have the right technology to deal with these. So here again thereís
the right technology for them to deal with the head injuries and the dizziness
that Iím suffering from. Mrs Holland has had two operations so far and she still
canít walk by the way. She is still bed ridden.
And in your article recently entitled the ĎWoman in Meí you said you
did not cry or beg for mercy and that none of the other victims on that day when
you were arrested on the 11 th March cried or begged for mercy or denounced the
Party or in any way tried to negotiate a way out of being brutalised. Now, was
this position planned beforehand?
was this position planned beforehand that people would not cry and you
No, everyone was, didnít know they would get tortured. You donít plan
torture, none of the people there knew or felt or even could foresaw that we
could get tortured. The least we knew was that we would be arrested. The torture
and the shock that came with that torture was amazing but not crying really was
this just extraordinary strength that just overcomes you. I think itís just
something that comes from God you know because these people are really
brutalising you, you know, they want to kill, you know the things that they are
doing to you. But, itís amazing that of the people who were there, the more than
thirty of us, none of the people, everyone just withstood the pain because they
would take turns around people, especially around the leadership. If they call
up Sekai Holland then they are beating her non stop, then Lovemore Madhuku,
Grace Kwinjeh, Morgan Tsvangirai and so on. But you know you just get an
extraordinary strength from God. You know something just makes you look at evil
in its eye, and you just look at it and bear it and of course they did beat us
up like that.
What did they use when they were beating you and can you identify the
Yes, I saw two of them in Court when we were in Court later on, on the
13 th March. But they were using all sorts of weapons. I was beaten up, for
instance parts of my ear came off, they were using a metal bar about a metre
long. You know, a metal bar on my head. Thatís really attempted murder. And I
couldnít even see that part of my ear was off until much later when they were
secretly transferring us from Machipisa to Harare Central Police Station. So I
was bleeding from the head, and I thought itís my head bleeding and then later I
touched and I felt this thing sticking out of my ear and it turns out that part
of my ear was off. So they were using all sorts of weapons even army belts and
then kicks. You know the woman who danced on Sekai Holland was wearing these
thick winter boots so you know this was something they had planned in advance.
Itís hot in Zimbabwe right now, weíre in the height of summer and you know sheís
in these thick, thick long winter boots, the ones you get in the United Kingdom
with fur inside. And, she is dancing on Sekai, she danced on William Bangoís
Did these people look like they were intoxicated because you can imagine Amai
Sekai Holland is, as I said before, 64 years old, and you can tell that sheís a
grandmother? Now you know when this woman, this other woman was dancing on top
of her and beating her like this, did they look like people who were sober, you
know, who really knew what they were
Itís not about them being sober but itís about it, I think,
representing the kind of ZANU PF politics that we have to deal with in Zimbabwe
. The level of intolerance, the level of brutality when a regime or a political
party is challenged. You know what, the kind of venom you get from ZANU PF
politicians, what you got now from Kembo Mohadi, that event there just
crystallised all that, just shows you what ZANU PF is and what it stands for.
And also Grace you wrote in your article, and I quote and you said Ďand
so, as is the case too often in Opposition politics, the attack on us women was
more on our sexualityí. Now what do you mean by this?
Yes because it was about our bums, the colour of my hair and different
things, being called whores and so on or the husbands, the colour of husbands we
have chosen to marry, as in the case of Sekai Holland. But none of the male
colleagues were assaulted or insulted in that way. For them it was really
political, so if they were beating up Lovemore Madhuku itís because heís leading
NCA demos and etc. So, the attack on women, you know, the way rape is used as a
weapon. Look at what is happening to women in Sudan for instance. Look at what
happens in war situations, the way rape has often been used as an instrument.
Itísthe way you know the ZANU PF thugs were using our sexuality
do you believe that you were brutalised and treated in this way mainly because
you are a woman?
Kwinjeh : Yeah
mean do you mean thereís a campaign of violence directed against women by the
Yes. But then, that kind of violence when they call you whores and so
on, is also characteristic you know of the misogynistic nature of our
environment. The intolerance against women, especially women who come out in
leadership or in the public sphere, women who are challenging certain things
about the society. And the only way the male colleagues can deal with you is by
calling you Ďwhoreí, then you are finished, you have to shut up. And,
unfortunately that kind of politics is not in ZANU PF alone but you find it even
in Opposition politics, you find it even with fellow male journalists, you find
it everywhere. The only way to silence a woman is by calling her a Ďhureí
(whore) and on this day unfortunately it was in such a violent and brutal manner
which was really terrible.
And you know, in a way violence against women goes against our culture
and what boys are taught by their parents. Now, it may sound like a repetition
but do you believe that the Mugabe regime has to use particular people like
psychopaths or youths high on drink and drugs to commit acts of violence against
women in this particular case?
Yes, I think for them to perpetrate that kind of violence they have to
be intoxicated by something and you could see after the four hours the heart
beating. You could see later on at Harare Central Police Station for instance
when some of them started to sober up, you could see that they were really
afraid of what they had done. And thatís the unfortunate bit of it, that they
are used at that moment and once that really Ė I feel sorry for the youth, the
16 year olds, 18 year olds, 20 year old youth who are involved in the militia
who are given drugs and they carry out these acts of violence, these unlawful
acts of violence and then later on they have to face the consequences.
what was going through your mind when this was
Nothing. You just look at them. Nothing you know, nothing happens, you
freeze, everything in you freezes temporarily. And for me, I was tortured on
that day and then later on they came to torture me again in the cells. Nothing
happens. You know, itís one of those moments that you just stop thinking and
look at evil, like I said.
Now you have made enormous sacrifices, both physical and material,
leaving your young family to fight for change in Zimbabwe . Do you wish now that
you had taken an easier path?
No, not at all, not at all. I think the struggle continues and I think
many of the comrades who are in the struggle, many of the comrades I was told
that those who are in remand who have been denied bail are actually in high
spirits. Thereís something about it Violet, when you are there Violet and you
are feeling it and going through it, thereís something about it that just gives
you enormous strength and that just tells you that God is on your side. And so,
I donít regret it at all, I think that itís really my fate or my destiny, I had
to go, thatís why I had to go back to Zimbabwe, I had to be part of the
leadership at this phase of our political history. And I think itís an important
phase because itís going to lead us somewhere and I think thatís why the regime
And just before you left for South Africa with Mai Sekai Holland you
had been released, you know, to a hospital under Riot Police guard and then you
were arrested again whilst trying to leave the country to go for urgent medical
treatment in South Africa . How do you interpret the actions of the government
then and were you very afraid when you were being denied that chance or that
right to leave the country for treatment?
Yeah itís scary, itís really scary. What they did is, we were in a MARS
Ambulance, so they actually let us get all the way to the airport and it was at
the airport that they turned us back. First we had stopped at Harare Central
Police station where our lawyers were talking to them trying to negotiate that
we had to leave and that there were no charges against us. If you remember that
the State could not present its case to the Magistratesí Court so there were no
charges, everybody was free. But then, we were told Ďno, that was not the caseí
So we were brought back under police guard, we had to sleep with Riot Police in
front of us with guns and having been tortured, you imagine that the people who
tortured you are there in front of you and you are trying to sleep. So itís a
very nasty traumatic experience which I hope never to go through again in my
life. So we had them on 24 hour guard from Sunday up to Wednesday. And then on
Wednesday when we managed to get a Court Order that we could leave the country
that is when they left and on Wednesday night we managed to sleep
Gonda: And Grace what about the issue of the way forward? What are your
views concerning the regional initiative to bring the political parties
I think thatís good for the political parties together. In any war
situation, time comes when the warring parties have to get together and come up
with a settlement. But, what needs to be understood are the basis upon which
those parties are coming together and what they have to come up with. We have
had the experience of 2000, weíve had the experience of 2002, weíve had you know
numerous experiences where ZANU PF will pretend to be doing something, you know
to be negotiating in good faith and yet on the other hand they are in reverse
gear to whatís being discussed or what is getting agreed upon. So, I think that
this time round, and the use of violence as a negotiating tool, I think that is
wrong. Because what Mugabe is doing now, he is saying OK Iím going to abduct,
Iím going to arrest, Iím going to kill as many people so by the time these folks
come and people come round the table you are negotiating and three journalists
get killed, not five. You are negotiating that 15 journalists get arrested not
30 and negotiating that the Opposition be allowed to hold rallies under POSA
when we know POSA is wrong. So what they are basically doing is raising the
tempo so that at the end of the day whatever we get as Zimbabweans, we are so
desperate that we say yes this is what we want. But that is wrong.
We want what is basic. We want
internationally accepted norms and standards of democratic practice. We donít
want you know, mediocrity, the kind of mediocrity that weíve been having in
Zimbabwe since 2000. Iím here in South Africa ; they are enjoying certain things
freely like that. There is an article, for instance, in one of the newspapers
today; there is a woman who is complaining that she got her passport after six
weeks. This is a passport after six weeks; the public is outraged. In Zimbabwe
having a passport has now become a privilege. So we are saying in Zimbabwe we
want to live well like in other countries in the region and other countries
internationally. But butchering us into succumbing is really wrong and I hope
that President Mbeki this time round realises that no, we have to have certain
solid understanding of what we want to achieve. Otherwise, like the efforts in
2000 and 2002 nothing much is going to be achieved.
Thank you very much Grace Kwinjeh.
Audio interview can be heard on SW
Radio Africa ís Hot Seat programme (Tues 10 April 2007 ). Comments and feedback
can be emailed to email@example.com