A witness stunned people Friday when he told a Commission of Inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was responsible for the killing of his parents and about 20,000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980s.
Siphamandla Mafu’s claims sparked fist fights between suspected members of the ruling ZANU PF party, who objected to his remarks, and opposition Mthwakazi Republic Party followers.
The Motlanthe-led Commission of Inquiry had to briefly adjourn as police arrested four members of Mthwakazi Republic Party, who echoed Mafu’s remarks.
Police could not immediately comment on charges being faced by the four locked up at Bulawayo Central Police Station. Before the arrests, Mafu had told the Commission, probing the death of six people gunned down by police in Harare a day after the July 30 harmonized elections this year, that he was suffering because of the Fifth Brigade atrocities, which killed his parents.
"... l’m suffering today because my parents were killed by that man (pointing to a portrait of Mnangagwa displayed in a room where the hearing was being conducted).”
Some ZANU PF activists and suspected state security agents of the spy network, the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) objected, accusing Mafu of defaming the president, who has been linked to the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade that was deployed by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in the two regions to clamp down on so-called dissidents the government claimed were linked to former Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo.
This did not go down well with members of Mthwakazi Republic Party, who backed Mafu, leading to a situation which degenerated into violent clashes and subsequent stoppage of the hearings.
When the meeting resumed, Mafu went back to the podium and repeated his remarks, noting that would be arrested soon after presenting his testimony.
True to his remarks, police and CIO agents seized him amid objections from Mthwakazi members, who attempted to block his arrest. Mafu was them whisked away in a police vehicle to join Terrence Wisdom Mkhwananzi, Welcome Moyo, Mayor Ncube and Marshall Sibanda at Bulawayo Central Police Station.
The Motlanthe-led Commission has held hearings in Harare and is expected to visit other regions within the next few days.
Some people say the commission is a waste of time as it should have conducted its hearings in Harare instead of cities like Bulawayo and others, which they claim, had no bearing on the outcome of the probe.
The commission’s objective is to inquire about the post-election violence in august; to identify the actors and their leaders, their motives and strategies deployed by the protesters; to investigate circumstances that necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order, and other issues.