Gweru, the curse of round­abouts

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion & Analysis - Is­dore Gu­va­mombe Re­flec­tions

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!

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