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TRUDY STEVENSON EXCLUSIVE:

My head was bleeding profusely, I knew my arm was broken, it was just hanging


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By Trudy Stevenson, MP

IT IS
indeed a sad day when I have to write a sequel to my report on the MDC meeting of 12 October last year, but there is nothing else for it.

Many people from all over the world - of various political persuasions and none - have sent their sympathy and good wishes for a speedy recovery to the three of us who were injured in Mabvuku.

I have been pursuaded to give an eye witness acount of the attack. Here is my own recollection.

Five of us travelled in my car – which I had borrowed from my new “in-laws” -- to Mabvuku to make a follow-up on a small house-meeting we had held the previous Tuesday afternoon 29th June.

The reason we did not return to that same house on Sunday 2 July was because when we left the house that Tuesday, we spotted a certain Munyaradzi supposedly in a building gang just next door.

This Munyaradzi had caused Simangele Manyere (Treasurer, Harare Province) and myself considerable grief before and during the Senate election last year, when he showed himself to be very plainly on the Tsvangirai side, despite having been identified by Harare Province as our point person in Mabvuku.

Manyere immediately recognized him, as did both Cllr Linos Mushonga (Provincial Organising Secretary) and Mr Karimatsenga (Provincial Secretary for Security), all of whom spoke to him as we were leaving. We then decided it would be unwise to return to the same house for the follow-up, as Munyaradzi was likely to disrupt our visit, at the very least.

We therefore tasked our young Mabvuku member, Luckson Mudachira, to arrange a meeting point elsewhere, and we agreed that we would then proceed from that point with key members of the Mabvuku structures to the Province offices in Hillside.

I was out of touch with the team for the next few days, as I attended the ZNCC Congress in Victoria Falls. Indeed, had I kept to my original itinerary I would only have returned Monday evening, but I managed to get onto a Saturday flight – luckily in some ways, unluckily in others! On my return, I arranged to drive with Manyere to Hillside to collect Luckson, Mushonga and Karimatsenga to go to the 2 o’clock rendez-vous.

Manyere complained bitterly en route that arrangements for another trip to Kuwadzana had failed when she had waited more than two hours for the driver and then abandoned the trip. Karimatsenga was not at Hillside when we arrived, and after waiting some time we decided we should proceed to Mabvuku without him, as we were already late. Tawanda Udzerema (Youth Deputy Organising Secretary) accompanied us instead.

When we reached Msasa, Karimatsenga called Mushonga and wanted me to go back and fetch him, but I asked him to simply follow us and find us in Mabvuku, as we were already late. In Mabvuku, Luckson directed us past the Circle Cement factory, and pointed to three youths running to meet us as we drove past the gate. We took the dirt road on the left just past the factory, and drove into the compound where two or three youths were waiting for us. They said we were not going to any house, but should just go to the open ground behind us. I backed the car a short way down a path opposite the big water tank, and the five of us got out, to be joined by the youths from the compound. Soon another three or four members joined us, and then a member on a bike who had come from the house where we had met on the Tuesday.

Mushonga, Manyere and I explained that we were also waiting for the women’s representatives, but meanwhile they should “huddle” to select their chairpersons who would be accompanying us to Harare Province to link with other structures. This they did – and meanwhile a big Caterpillar-type digger appeared from behind the long grass, surprisingly. It turned as though to come down the path, so I went towards the car to move out of the way, but it simply went onto the space nearby and stopped. The driver waved at me, so I waved back.

The group started introducing their chairpersons when suddenly one of the youths said: “Here come Tvsangirai’s guys.”

I looked up towards the compound, where I saw about ten people spread out quite widely advancing towards us, carrying something (not identified at that stage) in their hands.

I asked: “Shall we talk to them?” but the youth said: “No, we should move away from this place.” Then I saw the advancing crowd start running. Mushonga said “Give me the keys. I’ll drive” but I knew he would not be able to for two reasons, so I said: “No, I’ll have to drive, let’s go!” and I unlocked the passenger door, slid over to the driver’s seat, and Mushonga got in the passenger seat. They were calling my name, “Trudy! Trudy! You’ve gone against Tsvangirai!”

That’s when I realized it was me they were after. I tried to release the anti-theft immobilizer, but I couldn’t manage before the rocks - and I think bricks - started hitting the bonnet. I kept shouting “It’s not my car! It’s not my car! Please don’t damage the car!” By now, they were all around and rocks were coming through the windscreen and the door windows. Mushonga was no longer in the passenger seat. They shouted “Trudy, get out of the car! Trudy, get out of the car!” and then I knew that I must stay in the car to stay alive.

The rocks were hitting my head all over. Someone tried to pull me out of the car through the broken driver’s window – that’s how my arm was broken. They shouted: “Give us the keys! Give us the keys!” and at first I wouldn’t, but then I realized that if I didn’t, they would pull my arm off trying to pull me through the window, so I let go of the keys. At this point a woman standing at the driver’s door (she’s one who hit my head with a big rock) spotted the cord holding my mobile phone which was hidden under my jersey, so she grabbed it and pulled and twisted it until it broke off and she retreated with the mobile. Another person - or maybe it was her also- ran off carrying my briefcase. Now I realized that they were all running off. I don’t know what made them retreat so suddenly.

My head was bleeding profusely and I knew my arm was broken, it was just hanging. I managed to get out of the car and Mushonga appeared from somewhere. He said they had fled in a get-away car which was waiting for them. I looked back down the path for the others. The only one I saw was Manyere lying beside the path a little way off, groaning. She told us she had managed to crawl under the car to get away from the rocks – we had not had time to unlock the back door for her before the attack began. But then they had spotted her, pulled her out and kicked her all over. She was complaining her head was hurting, and she was sore all over. They had tried to pull her wedding rings off but they had just got her clip-on earrings and twisted another ring. Again I asked: “Where are the others? They should come and help us.” But no-one else appeared.

Suddenly we saw an old blue car driving in along the dirt road, so Mushonga ran towards it and managed to stop the driver. I also approached it, and we asked the driver to please go to the police for help and to phone my husband to alert him to come and find me there. Indeed this kind driver did exactly that, as I later discovered from my husband.

I then had to lie down because I was feeling sick and faint, so I lay down next to the car. Mrs Manyere stayed with me. Mushonga went off to the main Arcturus Road to try and get help. About 20 minutes later a police Landcruiser drove up, with Mushonga inside. At first I heard: “We’ve got to get all the details” but then when the off-duty police officer saw the situation and our condition, he kindly agreed to drive Manyere and myself straight to hospital.

I asked Mushonga to stay with the car until help arrived, because the windows were broken and it would be easy to steal the car or bits of it. Mushonga stayed with the car until a friend went out much later with spare keys to drive it back to the city – to my new in-laws’ house! What a way to start a new family relationship!

At the hospital we were attended to very quickly. Manyere was released after x-rays etc. with medication. I got my head stitched and x-rayed but had to stay in with my broken bones. Mushonga had broken fingers which were also attended to when he arrived later, and I think he had a head x-ray. He had lost consciousness at one stage during the attack, which was when they stole his shoes and other items.

To all my family, friends and colleagues who have suffered because of this attack, may I say how sorry I am this happened, and sorry also for your losses, your pain, your worry and your considerable inconvenience.

To all my family, friends and colleagues and the many complete strangers who have assisted us in any way and who have expressed their sorrow and sympathy over this Mabvuku attack – A VERY BIG THANK-YOU. All you people are the reason I will not give up. I love you all dearly, and I still believe most Zimbabweans are the very nicest and kindest people on this earth. Your fantastic reaction to this attack merely reinforces my belief in you!

My prayer is that something really positive will come out of all this, most especially that it shocks those still in denial into the realization that we simply MUST deal with the issue of violence WITHIN some groups who call themselves MDC, as well as in its more traditional locus, Zanu PF.

We need to concentrate our efforts on sorting out our national problems, not killing each other. It is a tragedy that this Mabvuku attack has enabled Zanu PF to point fingers at the MDC. Let it not happen again, ever.
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