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Monitor - Issue 213
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
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The woman who
spent two nights in police cells with her one-year-old toddler in
connection with the alleged bombing of Zanu-PF offices in Highfield
has spoken out for the first time.
Terror is written
all over the young woman’s face. She is clearly uneasy when
The Legal Monitor meets her for this exclusive interview.
is reluctant to talk about her traumatising experience.
normally leads a routine life in one of the country’s oldest
suburbs, Highfield, where she spends her day selling cheap wares
to support her small family.
But life has
changed dramatically since that day - Saturday 28 September to be
precise - when she was arrested for allegedly being behind the bombing
of the Zanu-PF Highfield offices.
she now lives in fear. “I am still terrified by what happened
to me and my son,” an apprehensive Pambayi tells The Legal
Monitor as she sorts out the wares she sells.
be in a hospital bed recovering from the shock, but I have to fend
for my children,” says the 32-year-old vendor.
She tells us
how her business as well as social life has been affected by the
two days she spent in detention.
my friends and relatives have not stopped querying about what really
happened and that has affected me badly,” says Pambayi.
Pambayi and her one-year old baby, Clifford, at Machipisa Police
Station on Saturday 28 September before moving them to Harare Central
Police Station for another night. Since then, Pambayi is wary of
her surroundings and The Legal Monitor experiences this fear first
hand during its quest for an interview.
It takes several
phone assurances, and then false starts involving several trips
to meet her.
muri kudei mukuwasha? Muri mapurisa? (What do you want? Are you
a policeman?),” she asks over the phone.
After the interview,
she apologises for the “screening” saying: “I
do not want to spend another day in police custody. I have had enough
of it.” “The problem now is I can’t trust anyone.
That is why I was asking you so many questions over the phone. I
am not like that under normal circumstances,” she says. One
can’t fail to notice the disquiet.
interview, she holds Clifford close to her chest – like that
vulnerable prized asset. “Clifford is so young and innocent.
He just doesn’t deserve this. No child should go through such
an experience,” says the diminutive mother of two.
look at me, where would I get the strength or even just the thought
of doing such a heinous act (bombing Zanu-PF offices)? Until the
day of the arrest, I was not even aware of the incident,”
she says, pleading her innocence.
her child were only released last Monday after the intervention
of lawyer Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal
Practitioners, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
the police, an informant overheard Pambayi boasting that “fire-fire
operation yatakaita nezuro yakabudirira,” which the police
translated to mean “the fire-fire operation that we conducted
yesterday (Friday 27 September) was a success”. Media reports
say the bombing reduced the Zanu-PF offices to rubble.
But, it is Pambayi
who is feeling the real damage at a personal level.
she is out, Pambayi doesn’t feel free.
her after recording a warned and cautioned statement and indicating
that they are carrying further investigations.
of jail for any mother such as Pambayi is a real nightmare in Zimbabwe,
where human rights lawyers, convicts and members of the judiciary
describe prisons as death traps.
have often borne the brunt of being jailed with their mothers in
Take the example
of Nigel Mutemagawu in 2008. Now seven, Nigel was dubbed the youngest
terrorist after spending jail time with his mother, who had been
in remand prison for allegedly plotting to topple President Robert
mother and child, High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe in 2008
described the jailing of Nigel as “totally unconscionable
struggles to lead a normal life and often suffers hallucinations,
according to his parents.
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