The murder of Mary Austen
How the elderly wife of one of Zimbabwe's last White farmers met her death
Mary Austen, a 74-year-old British-born woman, has been found dead on the farm which she and her husband ran near the Midlands town of Kwekwe. Her body was discovered in the couple's garden, and a doctor who performed a post mortem reported that she died from multiple head injuries.
Her husband was found in the couple's house. He too had been attacked with ferocity, but he was still alive, and is now under medical care at a private facility in Harare.
He has told his doctors that their home was attacked by ten men last week. He knew none of them by sight, but assumed that they were so-called Freedom Fighters. He said they came at night and ordered both husband and wife into the garden.
My source within the government spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), told me that the couple tried to reason with the men but were ignored. "They began attacking them with pick handles and sticks, and both collapsed to the ground. Mrs. Austen died on the spot, and Mr. Austen was left for dead," the source said.
One of those who found the couple told me: "It was a gruesome sight. Mrs. Austen was lying face down, her clothes were torn, and she was covered in clotted blood."
There seems to be no clear motive for the attack. Local villagers described the Austens as "a very understanding and kind hearted couple", who apparently grew large amounts of vegetables which they gave, along with other help, to those in need.
Mrs. Austen's death was not the only tbrutal murder in the country this week. In the rural Mashonaland district of Murehwa, villagers have discovered the mutilated and decomposing body of an opposition MDC councillor, Alloys Chandisarewa Sanyangore.
Mr. Sanyangore was abdudcted from his home at midnight early in November. It is understood that he had been strangled. He leaves a wife and six children.
Fears also continue to grow for the abducted human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who, as I previously reported, was taken from her home barefoot and wearing only pyjamas.
This is life, and death, in Zimbabwe today.