Chief Nemakonde dies aged 97

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By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

CHIEF Nemakonde, born Wilson Mhende, has died after a long illness.

He was 97 years old.

The late chief’s area of jurisdiction spans from Chinhoyi to Kanyaga under Makonde district.

According to an official source, the announcement of the Chief’s death, and accompanying obituary statement will be issued after a private burial as per tradition.

Known for his candour and fearlessness, Chief Nemakonde challenged a self-styled traditional healer, Rotina Mavhunga, over the controversial discovery of diesel at Maningwa Hills on the outskirts of Chinhoyi.

He reportedly told then president Robert Mugabe, Cabinet ministers and senior government officials that the supposed diesel find was a scandal and no miracle of that proportion could occur in his land, but no one listened.

It was later heard in court that Mavhunga, alias Nomatter Tagirira, found an abandoned fuel tank in the bush in March 2007.

She filled it with diesel, attached a pipe to the outlet and concealed it at the top of a rock.

She then summoned top government officials to witness her “discovery.” At a signal, an accomplice would open the tap on the pipe and officials would gasp in amazement as refined diesel oozed out of the rock. For her exploits, Mavhunga was paid US$ 1 million, among other gifts.

Controversy continued to stalk the Chief when in 2013 he ordered an unemployed villager, William Chakabveyo found in possession of a cellphone number belonging to a soldier’s wife to pay US$1 100 or two cattle and two goats.

This was after Chakabveyo was summoned to the communal court in Shackleton, some 10km from Chinhoyi, to answer charges of having an extra-marital affair with Lynos Nyikayavene’s wife, Sharoni Madungwe.

Chakabveyo appealed against the conviction and sentence at the civil court in Chinhoyi and the magistrate reduced the fine to US$400.