Why Slyvia had to die
How a Zanu-PF plot led to the death of a young girl
Slyvia Mudzingwa was a confident young woman from Zvishavane, a mining town in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. She was an enthusiastic recruit to the police service in Harare, and - even given the stricken state of the country - she could be said to have a promising future. Now she is dead, and the story of what led to her death is both shocking and heart-breaking.
The manner of her death was brutal. Two months into her training at the Morris Police Depot in Harare, she was beaten by her instructing officer, Inspector Maone, allegedly for laziness during a physical training session. Maone did a thorough job. Slyvia died on her way to hospital. An internal memo reveals a pathetic attempt at a cover-up, her death being put down to an "awkward fall."
But it is the real reason that lies behind this horrific incident which will tell the world of the reality of life in Zimbabwe today. Slyvia had a lover within the police service - the same man who beat her. Inspector Maone.
Maone is also a member of the feared Department 58, a police unit devoted to abductions, killings, and the like. Through her relationship with him, Slyvia knew of a crucial Zanu-PF plot - and she talked about it.
Slyvia had to be silenced. A warning, even a beating, was not thought sufficient. But her fatal "awkward fall" was, and the plot proceeded.
The plot went into action two weeks ago, when a 4x4 Nissan truck, carrying five men and 10 boxes of AK47 weapons, was apparently intercepted on the border with Mozambique by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Mugabe's secret police. It was announced that the men were all agents of Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and had all been trained in Britain and America in terrorism and subversion.
Pictures were taken. Statements were made. And the men were all arrested, and incarcerated in Chikurubi Maximum Security prison, there to await trial and punishment.
Co-incidentally, at this time the leaders of the Southern African States were gathering in Johannesburg to try and break the political impasse in Zimbabwe. "See!" declared Zanu-PF to those leaders - "See - these MDC people can't be trusted. They are attacking the state. Therefore they cannot be given control of the vital Ministry of Home Affairs in any government of national unity."
The truth is, of course, the whole deal was cooked up by the CIO, who supplied truck, weapons and men. The five men are indeed at Chikurubi prison. They'll stay there until the heat dies down, other events occur, and they are forgotten. Then they will be quietly released, to carry on with their duties on behalf of Zanu-PF.
We know all this for two reasons. Firstly, Slyvia talked enough, before she was killed. And second, we've been here before. Long-term observers may remember the case of 20 soldiers, said to be rogue supporters of MDC who allegedly beat up innocent Zanu-PF voters at election time. All 20 were paraded on TV in chains, and sent to Chikurubi. None were ever tried. All have now been released.
Indeed, Mugabe's men pulled the same trick back in the Eighties at the start of the infamous Operation Gukurahundi. Arms were planted on a farm owned by the Ndebele-aligned party Zapu, and used as an excuse to start the killings of the Ndebele people. At least 20,000 people died as a result.
Today, Slyvia alone has died. Her death is just as cruel, just as brutal as all the others.