Gweru, the curse of roundabouts
THE City of Gweru, known by sobriquet as The City of Progress, can surely never be progressive, for, whichever direction you take there is a roundabout. There is roundabout after roundabout, East, West, South and North.
It seems everything takes a roundabout approach. The city is agog with the news of a traditional healer from Mkoba suburb, who held as ransom two children for four years, after the children’s mother failed to pay two beasts for treatment of a rare foot disease.
This villager, the son of a peasant, wonders how a mother can spend four years without seeing her children, within a vicinity of 60km, on the pretext that she has to raise payment, first. What a roundabout approach? The kids, now aged 11 and 15, were aged seven and 11, respectively, when their mother, Ms Simangele Zimba (33) handed them over to the n’anga, Juliet Mpofu, popularly known as Gogo Maphilisa in 2013, for treatment.
But the benevolent traditional healer has been paying school fees for the two children — Grades Three and Grade Six — at Nyozani Primary School in Fort Rixon.
We are told the traditional healer is also taking great care of their upkeep so much that the children are now refusing to go back to their family. Well, this is as bizarre as they come.
It is not surprising that the children are in good shape. They are healed. They are well-dressed. They are well fed, too! Are traditional healers not masters of diet and good upkeep?
Asked if the upkeep and school fees did not cost her much more than the two cows she is owed, she said she was following the principles of the occult. Well, the oracle is that if the two beasts are not paid, the rare foot disease that the children were treated of, would re-inflict or infect. So the payment of the two beasts is a matter of principle. Principle!
The craziest part of this story is the police involvement. It does not sound like the approach of a serious police force. Police in Gweru are negotiating with both the traditional and the children, who are also vehemently refusing to reunite with their mother. Really? Is there anything to negotiate there for serious policemen? The crime is clear.
This villager has seen police in Gweru religiously ambushing those who go past red traffic lights and those who straddle white lines in the CBD. This villager has seen police officers energetically lapping at any traffic offender. This villager has seen police behind almost each roundabout. Why could they not apply the same seriousness and commitment to children? Are children not State property? Which police negotiates that? Our police? Our Zimbabwe Republic Police?
Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, elders with cotton tuft hair say no one raises a child alone, the community does. There, even Karitundundu, the ageless autochthon of wisdom and knowledge, says any police that would negotiate and not arrest a person for holding children as ransom, would certainly send chicken in the village scampering for cover with laughter, shame and disgust.
Now the worst part of the story is that the children’s mother had to meet her children for the first time in four years at Gweru Rural Police Station, where she was allowed a photoshoot with them. Then the children were returned to the traditional healer. At a police station? My foot.
Then the story goes beyond police. Mkoba is one of the suburbs in Gweru where journalists live. There are many journalists in the city, who supposed to sniff for news, but they missed this story.
It took Freedom Mupanedemo, the boy from yonder in Mberengwa, to break the story and indeed, even the big media guys in the province missed it. That is what separates a good journalist from the rest.
Going forward, we still await police action on it, beyond negotiations. I am sure it is not expecting too much to have them act on this matter swiftly. Back in the village, respect for children’s rights is sacrosanct!