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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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In memory of a little boy
March 2, 2013, 10:02 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

By the time you read this letter a twelve year old boy will have been buried in Headlands. His is one of the first names that will go on the 2013 Roll of Honour commemorating victims of political violence in another election year in Zimbabwe. Just two weeks after the date of our constitutional referendum was announced, a little boy died, burnt to death in the middle of the night.

Photographs of Christpower Simbarashe Maisiri are all over the internet: gruesome, horrific, haunting. But the image that will stay forever in our minds is the picture of a grinning cheeky- faced boy dressed in dungarees without a T shirt standing under a bright blue sky in front of a thatched house with a view of grassland and mountains behind him.  Christpower’s father, Shepherd is an MDC deputy organising secretary in the area and he and his family have been repeatedly targeted by political militia. Their story is a litany of horror which has included rape and repeated incidents of arson. Shepherd Maisiri told SW Radio Africa  that one day before the latest attack he had set out on MDC campaign business when he was approached by two people who said they were going to ‘finish him off.’ 24 hours later while Shepherd was away from home, men came in the night.

On the night of Saturday 23rd February Christpower was asleep in a thatched house with four of his siblings.  Witnesses said that they heard an explosion sometime after 11 pm, rushed outside and found the house the children were sleeping in was on fire. An older boy sleeping in another hut managed to smash the door open and rescued four children but when the roof collapsed he could not get to Christpower who burnt to death.

‘Murderers,” was the huge front page headline of the Daily News and then despite attempts to whitewash the horror, saying the fire was just arson and not politically motivated, it was the actions that followed that spoke much louder than the words. Shepherd Maisiri told SW Radio Africa that CIO men arrived at his burnt homestead in a car without number plates but he refused to discuss the matter with them saying it was a matter for police not state security agents. When he asked them why their vehicle had no number plates the men said they must have fallen off on the journey. “Even in my state of grieving I’m not that stupid or naïve to believe that,” Maisiri said. Meanwhile at the highest levels of government a cabinet meeting had left incensed MDC MP’s demanding accountability and naming names. Quoted in the Press a few days later MDC’s  Minister of Finance Tendai Biti said: “We told Didymus Mutasa (Zanu PF MP) that he is behind the murder of this boy. If he thought we were hiding under the cover of cabinet privilege, we are now saying it in public. Mutasa you killed this boy. If you think we are lying take us to court for defamation.”

The day before the funeral after senior MDC officials, including Prime Minister Tsvangirai, announced that they were going to travel to Headlands to attend the burial of Christpower, the MDC’s Manicaland spokesperson  said: “They (CIO and war vets) went around the villages last night telling people not to attend the burial and that there would be dire consequences for anyone seen going to a gathering to be addressed by Tsvangirai.”

This letter is in memory of a little boy, Christpower Maisiri ; how sorry we are; rest in peace. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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