Memorial service revives pain of January killings

Source: Memorial service revives pain of January killings – The Standard April 21, 2019

Kelvin Choto’s widow Varaidzo Chiyanike is overcome with emotion during Choto’s memorial service in Chitungwiza yesterday. Choto was shot dead by security agents during the January 14 protests. Picture: Shepherd Tozvireva


A memorial service for one of the victims of the January shootings, Kelvin Choto, yesterday brought back memories of the events of that day with people recounting incidents where government displayed heavy-handedness.

The event was held at the Choto family home in Chitungwiza’s Unit A. MDC leader Nelson Chamisa had been billed to attend the memorial service, but he did not turn up.

Choto (22), a promising footballer, was reportedly shot and killed by law enforcers in Chitungwiza during the January protests where close to 20 people died after the State responded to the riots with brute force — deploying police and soldiers who used live ammunition on the protesters.

The atmosphere at the memorial turned emotional as people gave chilling accounts of their experiences of the January clampdown.

Apparently, overwhelmed by emotion, Choto’s widow, Varaidzo Chiyanike, collapsed and appeared to have fainted several times during the proceedings. She later opened up to The Standard saying she wanted to see justice served.

“I am still in pain over what happened. Life would not have been the same had my husband been alive,” she said.

“Kelvin promised me a good life and he made that same promise about his daughter. Our daughter is 10 months old now and what pains me the most is that she will grow up without knowing her father. It is very painful.

“It is the government that destroyed my life and that of my child by taking the life of my husband. Even then, the government didn’t show any remorse or admit that they acted wrongly. I only pray that justice will be served. I want my daughter to live a normal life that we lived when her father was still alive.”

MDC provincial chairman for Harare Wellington Chikombo said the Mnangagwa administration had failed to provide leadership. He said instead of uniting people, the government had always found excuses to inflict pain to its citizens.

“The responsibility of the government is to make sure that they provide security to the people and not to be a threat to the people,” he said.

“It is very unfortunate. As MDC, we are distressed and shaken, but we learn a lot from such unfortunate incidents. Zanu PF always thrives on elimination instead of adding. As a country, we really need to love each other and solidify each other so that we are able to confront this regime that has largely failed to deal with fundamental challenges.”

Choto’s mother, Ellen Juru, said freedom of expression must not be stifled in Zimbabwe and that demonstrations against the high cost of living are justified, but the reaction of the government was uncalled for.

She said she cried day and night over the unfortunate incident that destroyed her family’s dreams.

Julius Choto, Kelvin’s father, said the government must not be brutal to its citizens and that even after killing people, the cost of living was still rising.
“We are under the leadership of a ruthless and careless government,” he said.

“The government has no solutions to improve people’s lives and that is why they resort to killing and that is dangerous.

“The government must simply create conducive environment to enable its citizens to work for themselves and not this brutality that we are subjected to.”