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Vehicle Crashes Involving Senior Officials

In the course of Charles’ research for The Land Reform Deception respondents frequently pointed to car crashes as examples of assassinations undertaken by the government against political opponents, or by factions with ties to state resources against their opponents. For example, a respondent in military intelligence explained specifically how some individuals are deliberately killed by staged car crashes in order for the government to provide plausible deniability about the death of certain individuals.

Out of interest Charles explored details surrounding the deaths of some senior individuals since independence in 1980. The following list is not systematic and he am not suggesting that these individuals were deliberately killed. However, Charles did find the number of senior individuals involved in car crashes to be very high; moreover, many of the crashes paralleled accounts given by respondents in how some crashes were deliberately orchestrated.

Senior Officials Involved in Vehicle Crashes

A surprisingly high number of senior officials in Zimbabwe are involved in car crashes, and many occur under suspicious circumstances. The deaths of Lookout Masuku, Edwin Nleya, Shepard Chisango, Learnmore Jongwe, Innocent Makamure, and others are frequently cited in reports and NGOs as suspicious. Reports from foreign governments also suggest that not all vehicle crashes are accidents. A confidential cable from the US Embassy in Harare stated that vehicle crashes were, “a way of dying long associated here [in Zimbabwe] with ZANU-PF political assassination.” The following excerpt from a cable sent from the US Embassy in Harare gives another example of how the US intelligence services sees some crashes:

“ZANU-PF political commissar ELLIOT MANYIKA died in a car accident last Saturday when his car suffered a blown tire. In rumour-driven Zimbabwe there is considerable speculation that this was not in fact an accident. MANYIKA was close to Emmerson Mnangagwa and was viewed as a hardliner who was attempting to reform ZANU-PF party structures in support of Mnangagwa. Perhaps not coincidentally, his two immediate predecessors died under similar circumstances. Border Gezi died on April 28, 2001 when his car skidded of the road. Moven Mahachi died on May 26, 2001 when his Range Rover also went off the road.”

Charles limited discussion here to that of vehicle crashes because during an interview with a senior officer in the army, Steven Sebungwe, the respondent specifically identified the practice of causing vehicle crashes as a method used by ZANU-PF to eliminate political opponents. Sebungwe explained:

“Even in the CIO they have such departments, the ‘Dirty Tricks Departments,’ who are responsible for all these strange cars [crashes]. I don’t know how they do it and where they were trained to do that, but even a new Mercedes Benz, even if you just give them time to tamper around with that car it will suddenly burst a tyre. Even if you take it to quality control people and they will tell you this tyre is perfect, it’s new, but you will suddenly be having it bursting. They use it in ZANU-PF to eliminate their enemies.”

Hover, the following list is not exhaustive or intended to suggest that some or all individuals suffered suspicious crashes. Zimbabwe has notoriously poor roads, and drivers frequently collide with slow-moving vehicles and livestock. Information regarding their crashes is scant and often filled with conjecture; indeed the possible reasons for the crash – provided by me – are speculative and it is probable that at least some of these incidents were genuine accidents. Nevertheless, the table below shows that a surprisingly large number of senior political figures are involved in accidents that share similar patterns.


List of Senior Officials, Family Members and Staff Involved in Vehicle Crashes

  Date Name Party Details
1. 26 Dec. 1979 Tongogara, Josiah

ZANLA Chief of Defence

ZANU Type: Car crash

One fatality: Josiah Tongogara

Description: Collision with parked vehicle

Possible motive: Mugabe’s potential rival for leadership of post-independence Zimbabwe


2. 1989 Ndangana, William

Deputy Defence Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: William Ndangana

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Said to have been mistakenly killed; target was allegedly Edgar Tekere


3. 1992 Ngwenya, Mthandazo Ndema

Novelist and academic

Unknown Type: Car crash

One fatality: Mthandazo Ndema Ngwenya

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Critic of the government


4. June 1992 Giwa, Christopher

Youth leader, activist

Unknown Type: Car crash

One fatality: Christopher Giwa

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Student leader who opposed Mugabe


5. 1994 Malunga, Sydney

Member of Parliament

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Sydney Malunga

Description: Vehicle swerved to avoid a ‘black dog’

Possible motive: Critic of Mugabe. Malunga was repeatedly detained and eventually acquitted of aiding dissidents in the mid 1980s during the Gukurahundi crisis.


6. 1995 Rukarwa, Witness

Governor of Mashonaland West

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Witness Rukarwa

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Feuding within ZANU-PF


7. 1995 Ushewokunze, Chris

Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Chris Ushewokunze

Description: Head-on collision with army lorry

Possible motive: Unknown


8. 1996 Duri, Zororo

ZANU-PF chairman in Manicaland

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Duri, Zororo

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Disobeying orders from senior ZANU-PF leaders


9. 1996 Pamire, Peter

Businessman

Unknown Type: Car crash

One fatality: Peter Pamire

Description: Brake failure

Possible motive: Alleged romantic liaisons with Grace Mugabe. The death of Peter Pamire in a car crash brought about the term, the ‘Pamire Silencing Method,’ which means a planned car crash to kill the victim. Sebungwe explained: ‘When he was killed he was coming from the airport. He had gone to South Africa. People believed that he was having an affair with Grace Mugabe. So I don’t know what happened to his car. I think they cut one of his brake pipes. So when he was driving home at night he was involved in an accident. He died on the spot.’


10. 1996 Zvobgo, Edson

Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities.

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Unknown


11. Aug. 2000 Gwanzura, Rufaro

Member of Parliament

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Rufaro Gwanzura

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Possibly connected to a political rivalry with ZANU-PF member Cleophas Kundiona


12. 28 Apr. 2001 Gezi, Border

Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Border Gezi

Description: Burst tyre

Possible motive: Minister Border Gezi’s fatal vehicle crash on 28 April 2001 was featured for several days on the front page of the national newspaper and ZANU-PF mouthpiece, The Herald. I include the following account because it coincides with claims made by respondent Steven Sebungwe, a senior army officer. A Herald story on 30 April 2001 stated that the Minister Gezi was being driven in a Mercedes Benz and that ‘preliminary investigations’ had noted that the rear left tyre had burst (see a copy of the article on following pages). An inquest was held, and two CMED officials (from the same repair and maintenance facility Sebungwe cited) were found guilty of culpable homicide . Interestingly, a report from The Herald noted that one of the accused died before the trial was completed . A confidential cable sent from the US Embassy in Harare reported the vehicle crashed due to a ‘tire blowout.’


13. 26 May 2001 Mahachi, Moven

Defence Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Moven Mahachi

Description: Head-on collision

Possible motive: Could have been suspected of involvement in a coup plot and of opposing diamond theft from the DRC.


14. 21 June 2007 Gunda, Armstrong

Brigadier and former commander of Presidential Guard

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Armstrong Gunda

Description: Train hit his car

Possible motive: Suspected participant in alleged coup attempt


15. 6 Dec. 2008 Manyika, Elliot

Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Elliot Manyika

Description: Burst tyre

Possible motive: A confidential cable sent from the US Embassy in Harare stated that the Zimbabwe government was investigating individuals for the alleged assassination of Manyika.


16. 10 Feb. 2009 Dube, Timond

Aide to Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe

Catherine Mabhiza

Mother of Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe

MDC Type: Car crash

Two fatalities: Timond Dube and Catherine Mabhiza

Description: Catherine Mabhiza and Timond Dube were travelling in the same vehicle. Dube died at the scene whilst Mabhiza died on 26 March 2009 in South Africa from injuries sustained in the crash.

Possible motive: Death may been to undermine Thokozani Khupe


17. 6 Mar. 2009 Tsvangirai, Morgan

Opposition leader and Prime Minister

Tsvangirai, Susan

Wife of Morgan Tsvangirai

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Susan Tsvangirai (wife of Morgan Tsvangirai)

Description: Collision with lorry

Possible motive: Opposition leader and political rival to ZANU-PF. Presidential Guard Captain Ibrahim Chasakara allegedly admitted to masterminding an assassination attempt against Morgan Tsvangirai.


18. 11 Mar. 2009 Muswere, Francis

District chairman for Makoni West

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Francis Muswere

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Political rival


19. 13 Mar. 2009 Sipepa-Nkomo, Samuel

Water Resources Minister

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Vehicle rammed from behind. Vehicle also contained Gorden Moyo (Minister of State)

Possible motive: Opposition minister


20. 13 Apr. 2009 Mutsekwa, Giles

Home Affairs co-Minister

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Vehicle rammed from behind

Possible motive: Opposition minister


21. 17 July 2009 Pemhenayi, Charles

Member of the House of Assembly for Mutare North, Member of Parliament

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Charles Pemhenayi

Description: A cable from the US Embassy in Harare stated the following: ‘After initially asserting that foul play was not suspected, police now report that a car sped away when police first arrived on the accident scene to investigate the deadly crash. The MP’s wife and son suffered minor injuries in a separate car accident on Tuesday on their way to PEMHENAYI’s funeral.’

Possible motive: Unknown


22. 21 July 2009 Pemhenayi, ?

Wife of Charles Pemhenayi

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Pemhenayi’s wife and son received minor injuries in a car crash on their way to Charles Pemhenayi’s funeral

Possible motive: Unknown


23. 7 Nov. 2009 Nyamande, John

Member of Parliament

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: John Nyamande

Description: Collision with parked vehicle

Possible motive: Opposition politician


24. 13 Feb. 2010 Tsvangirai, Morgan

Opposition leader and Prime Minister

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Burst tyre

Possible motive: Opposition leader, political rival


25. 23 Mar. 2010 Biti, Tendai

Minister of Finance

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Collision with lorry

Possible motive: Opposition minister. Initiated numerous finance measures unpopular with ZANU-PF


26. 24 Mar. 2010 Gasela, Renson

Founding member of MDC.

Mlambo, Lyson

Midlands South Provincial Chairperson

Gumbo, Ntombizodwa

Chair of the women’s assembly for Midlands south

Renson, Lyson

Women Assembly Provincial Chairperson for Midlands South

MDC Type: Car crash

Three fatalities: Renson Gasela, Lyson Mlambo, Ntombizodwa Gumbo, and Lyson Renson

Description: Collision with stationary lorry

Possible motive: Opposition party politicians


27. 24 Mar. 2010 Nkomo, Alice

Anti-corruption Commissioner, ZANU-PF Central Committee Member

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Alice Nkomo

Description: Sideswiped by a car attempting to over-take

Possible motive: Unknown


28. 11 Sept. 2010 Magunda, Alex

MDC district chairman for St. Mary’s

Sango, Loveless

District vice chairperson for St. Marys

Muzuva, Innocent

Secretary for Ward 1 in St. Mary’s

Taruvinga, Connie

St. Mary’s Organising Secretary (Taruvinga eventually passed away from injuries on 11 October 2010)

MDC Type: Car crash

Four fatalities: Alex Magunda, Loveless Sango, Innocent Muzuva, and Connie Taruvinga

Possible motive: Unknown. Accounts suggest the incident was a genuine accident.


29. 11 Oct. 2010 Dube, Edwin

Deputy Editor for Zimbabwe Independent’s

MDC (assumed) Type: Car crash

One fatality: Edwin Dube

Description: Vehicle sideswiped by truck

Possible motive: Government critic and for exposing corruption


30. 3 Nov. 2010? Mabhena, Norman

MDC national executive member

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Two attempts were made to ‘bump him off the road’

Possible motive: Perhaps for embarrassing ZANU-PF leadership. The following gives more insight: ‘Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us that Mabhena had also been receiving death threats, two of which included phone calls telling him “he was going to die for embarrassing the ZANU PF leadership.” In the last two weeks the MDC official was getting late night visits to his home from unknown people… Mabhena started receiving threats after his family spurned a ZANU PF offer last month to have his brother, Welshman, interred at the national shrine’.


31. 1 Dec. 2010 Ndlovu, Jabulani

Hwange Senator

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Jabulani Ndlovu

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Unknown


32. 23 July 2012 Ncube, Ntabiso

Son of Welshman Ncube, president of an MDC faction

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Ntabiso Ncube

Description: Vehicle ‘rammed into a wall’ at 2am

Possible motive: Son of MDC leader


33. 10 Dec. 2012 Mujuru-Makoni, Chipo

Daughter of Vice President Joyce Mujuru

 

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

Two fatalities: 2-month old son of Dr Amin Hamidzadeh and the driver of the vehicle Joseph Ngonji

Description: Chipo Mujuru-Makoni collided with a vehicle containing the family of Dr Amin Hamidzadeh

Possible motive: Unknown


34. 19 June 2013 Chindori-Chininga, Edward Takaruza

Former Mines Minister

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Edward Takaruza Chindori-Chininga

Description: ‘Rammed into a tree’ after failing to stop at an intersection

Possible motive: Was allegedly accused of being ‘Baba Jukwa,’ the online source of numerous ZANU-PF secrets. Also alleged to be investigating the ties between ZANU-PF and the mining industry.


35. 14 July 2013 Dhliwayo, Elliot

Human rights activist

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Elliot Dhliwayo

Description: Vehicle sideswiped by two cars who failed to stop after the accident

Possible motive: Human rights activist critical of ZANU-PF


36. 20 Aug. 2013 Karakadzai, Mike

National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager, retired Air Commodore 

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

One fatality: Mike Karakadzai

Description: Vehicle was said to have hit a cow

Possible motive: Unknown


37. 27 Dec. 2013 Sikhala, Job

MDC-99 president

MDC Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Sikhala, his wife and children were involved in a major accident reportedly due to brake failure

Possible motive: Opposition politician


38. 25 Feb. 2014 Bango, William

MDC Activist, Veteran Journalist, Tsvangirai aide

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: William Bango

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Opposition politician


39. 20 Oct. 2014 Moyo, Lovemore

Former speaker of parliament, MDC-T National Chairman 

MDC Type: Car crash

One fatality: Vumani Mahlangu (driver of Moyo’s) vehicle eventually died from his injuries

Description: Unknown

Possible motive: Opposition politician


40. 21 Oct. 2014 Mnangagwa, Emmerson

Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Car made a sudden turn into Mnangagwa’s vehicle.

Possible motive: Intensifying factional conflict.


41. 8 Nov. 2014 Butau, David

Mbire legislator, key ally of VP Joyce Mujuru

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Vehicle said to hit ‘at least six donkeys’

Possible motive: Long-time ally of the Mujuru family. Comes at a time of intensifying jockeying by ZANU-PF ahead of the December 2014 ruling party conference. Also comes at a key time when Joyce Mujuru is under intense pressure by Grace Mugabe who has newly emerged as a key political player and potential successor to her husband.


42. 28 Nov. 2014 Kabuyuni, Gokwe

MDC district chairperson

MDC Type: Bus crash

One fatality: Shushine Siyamandanda

Description: Front tyre of bus burst causing the vehicle to veer off the road

Possible motive: Opposition politician


43. 13 Dec. 2014 Phelekezela, Mphoko

Vice President

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Vehicle made a sudden stop causing a rear-end collision

Possible motive: Unknown


44. 15 Feb. 2016 Mnangagwa, Samora

Son of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President of Zimbabwe

ZANU-PF Type: Car crash

No fatalities

Description: Samora Mnangagwa’s vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with a bread delivery vehicle.

Possible motive: Factionalism. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Samora Mnangagwa, is the leading figure in the Robert Mugabe succession battle with Grace Mugabe.


Moven Mahachi Vehicle Crash

The fatal vehicle crash on 26 May 2001 involving ZANU-PF Minister of Defence Moven Mahachi was viewed with particular suspicion by a farmer respondent, Gerry Garner (Mashonaland West, interviewed on 2 March 2007), in part because it came just 28 days after ZANU-PF Minister Border Gezi was involved in a similar fatal vehicle crash. Respondent Garner believed that when Mahachi’s vehicle came to rest, CIO operatives mistakenly placed the Government number plate right side up over the original vehicle’s inverted civilian number plate. On 28 May 2001, The Herald ran a front page story detailing Mahachi’s death, featuring a photograph of Mahachi’s Land Rover Discovery (below). The researcher enlarged the number plate, which is upside down because the vehicle came to rest on its roof (the bottom line is visible, ‘893 A’ – see following page). A second number plate has been placed over the original, but this one is right-side-up bearing the number ‘GPR 2052,’ indicating a Government vehicle.

 Moven Mahachi Vehicle Crash PhotographVehicle-Number-Plate - 1 - Upload

Source: The Herald .

Moven Mahachi Vehicle Crash: Number Plate Close-up

Vehicle-Number-Plate - 2 - Upload

Source:  © Charles Laurie; The Herald.